Monday, December 6, 2021
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Penn State’s In-Person Graduation Means a Return to State College Visitors

By Centre County Report | Dayna Brewer

Since COVID hit last year the local hospitality industry has taken a hard hit. But with Penn State holding its first in-person commencement since December 2019, hotels and bed and breakfasts have booked up for this weekend.

“This will be the busiest weekend that this area has enjoyed since the [Penn State football] Whiteout weekend in 2019,” said Dave Gerdes, Happy Valley Adventure Bureau vice president of sales and marketing.

He says Centre County took a cautious approach to visitors during much of the pandemic.

“… We had to be very sensitive to the community,” Gerdes said. “The community throughout this pandemic have at times not been very comfortable with welcoming people in. It’s not like they said ‘no,’ but they didn’t exactly say ‘yes.'”

Visitors want to be safe too. That’s why places like Our Fair Lady bed and breakfast in Bellefonte have made changes to make their guests more comfortable.

“All of the common areas, I invested in special air purifiers that have the UV ray light systems in it,” said Our Fair Lady owner Tami Schuster. “And then I have special UV lights I put in all of the guest bedrooms so when they leave then that gets put on and it zaps everything.”

Schuster’s B&B still offers guests breakfast but with a twist — different locations in and outside the house to eat.

Centre County Report video originally published April 30, 2021.

Other guest houses and hotels have booked up too for graduation weekend.

Shaner Corporation and Happy Valley Hotels operate four hotels in State College: Fairfield Inn & Suites, Hampton Inn & Suites, Holiday Inn Express, Springhill Suites.

All of them were mostly or close to sold out, Shaner Corporation senior sales manager Jeff Deitrich said.

The local hospitality industry hopes this weekend sets the bar that Centre County is ready to host people in the future for more events as the pandemic eases.