HAMILTON, Ohio — Seven Hamilton businesses celebrated an end to Ohio's mask mandate by showing appreciation for the customers who supported them through the pandemic.
"Those folks have kept us afloat," said Brad Baker, owner of Pinball Garage. "All we wanted to do is scrape by just like anyone else. We knew we weren't going to get rich in all of this. We were afraid we were going to have to close down. And we didn't."
Like the world beneath glass inside Baker's business, the world has been a bit of a pinball game, particularly for businesses trying to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now that owners of local businesses can see the light at the end of the tunnel, they've chosen to give back to the loyal customers who supported them.
"Very grateful for all of Hamilton for coming out and supporting our businesses," said Kat Steele, manager of Lounge 24. "It's been a very touch year for all of us."
Businesses spent Wednesday giving back in the form of free barbecue, drink specials, live music and other discounts.
Steele said the event was the happiest of happy hours.
"To be able to see everyone's expression and know that they're enjoying themselves," she said. "That they're having a good time. It means a lot."