Drive down any major street in Wichita and you see the signs:
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Businesses are helping paint the town black-and-yellow in preparation for Saturday’s basketball game in Atlanta between Wichita State University and Louisville.
The winner advances to the NCAA championship game Monday, and WSU fans are using all means possible – from cookies to discounts on pet adoptions – to show their support for the Shockers.
It’s the first time WSU has advanced to the Final Four since 1965.
“It’s really exciting for small businesses. It’s just been booming,” said Susy Ellis, owner of Monica’s Bundt Cake Co., 1328 E. Douglas.
A WSU graduate, Ellis said it’s important to her to support the team. She said Monica’s is decorating several businesses with black and yellow balloons. And orders for Shocker-themed cupcakes and cookies are on the rise.
At Vermillion Incorporated, a bulk cable and wire harness manufacturer for the military and aerospace industry, 71 employees received Final Four T-shirts, and the company will hold an employee lunch – complete with WSU cookies – on Friday.
“We just want to celebrate the local victory. It’s already a win no matter what happens,” said Susan Shimanek, Vermillion’s human resources manager.
Koch Industries placed a 60-foot banner on the side of its building that can be seen from K-96.
The company is celebrating the upcoming game in several ways, including giving Shocker-themed cookies, stadium cups and buttons to employees on Friday. It also is holding raffles for WSU gift baskets and sponsoring the WSU Alumni Association’s pep rally in Atlanta along with its subsidiary Georgia Pacific.
“We’ve had a longstanding and wonderful relationship with Wichita State. We recruit a lot of students from that school to work with Koch companies in Wichita and elsewhere,” said Melissa Cohlmia, director of corporate communication for Koch Companies Public Sector.
“We’re proud of the Shockers, the hometown team at Koch Arena, and excited to get behind their quest for the national championship.”
Car dealerships, apartment complexes, restaurants and just about every other kind of business are equally ebullient, using billboards, electronic signs, balloons and other devices to show their support for the Shockers.
WSU-themed “Shockolate” treats at Cocoa Dolce, 2132 N Rock Road, are among the WSU-related products that have grown in popularity over the past couple of weeks, said Paree Dilkes, the store’s retail specialist.
Cocoa Dolce also partnered with the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition to send about 150 boxes of special “Shockolate” to site selectors and economic developers across the country.
“We thought it would be a great opportunity to get out our message and utilize the fun nature of the competition to break through the noise of all the other communities across the country trying to curry these folks’ interest in Wichita,” said Tim Chase, GWEDC president.
To celebrate the Final Four appearance, the Kansas Humane Society, 3313 N. Hillside, said it would offer $4 pet adoptions on all animals 6 months and older on Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
National food chains Pizza Hut and Subway also are offering promotions. Pizza Hut has said it will give away free pizza to WSU students for one day in the week following the championship game if the Shockers win it all. Subway said it will donate 3,333 sandwiches to the local food bank in the state or community of the team that hits the most three-point shots during the tournament.