Downtown Muncie is gearing up to welcome parents and students to the community during orientation.
At its meeting Wednesday, members from Muncie Downtown Development started making plans to draw parents downtown during their students' orientation. The group has invited business owners to volunteer by guiding tours.
This is the partnership's fifth year participating in Ball State University's orientation.
Downtown Development and The Muncie Visitor's Bureau plan tours to downtown Muncie and put together welcome bags with information about the community. The welcome bags include discount tickets, a map with Muncie's attractions and menus for downtown businesses.
During the two days of freshman orientation, parents are given the chance to go downtown to learn more about the community around Ball State. Parents will ride a MITS bus to get downtown and then take a walking tour to see local businesses.
During Wednesday's meeting, the group mentioned some changes as to how the orientation tours will be handled this year, such as inviting Ball State orientation guides to The Artist Within to paint a ceramic mug while downtown businesses showcase their offerings through food samples. Member said this activity will give orientation guides a better idea of what to tell parents to encourage them to take the tour.
So far, there are about 10 volunteers signed up as orientation tour guides.
Cheryl Crowder, program manager for the Downtown Development, said anyone can volunteer, including business owners, Muncie residents and Ball State students. Volunteers can participate multiple times or just once. Donations are also accepted.
Nancy Buchert, director of events and marketing for the Muncie Chamber of Commerce, said showing parents what Muncie has accomplished in the past few years is one of the best parts of giving tours.
"I love it," she said. "What I like about giving tours is the pride I feel about what we have done. It makes you remember how this place has grown."
Buchert said parents usually like the tours and sometimes they stay to try out the bars and restaurants.
Complete knowledge of downtown Muncie is not needed to participate, Crowder said.
"Your experience with downtown is what is important," she said. "When you talk about your experience, that's what excites parents."