Ashley Arnot sets a table for five at the Flagstaff House on Thursday. The restaurant is enjoying an increase in reservations, thanks to the University of Colorado s winter graduation.

Despite a slump in the economy, today’s University of Colorado graduates and their families are still celebrating the milestone.

“This is a huge step for me,” said graduating international affairs senior Marie Tanner. “I worked hard all these years, so I’m going to celebrate.”

Nicole Duncan’s parents flew out from the Florida Keys to watch her receive her engineering diploma.

“All the family who would have come out to celebrate made it out here,” said Nicole Duncan. “There are no economic reasons why they didn’t come. We’re all going to go out to dinner and celebrate.”

Nicole’s mom, Georgette Duncan, who runs a business with her husband, said the rough economy in Florida has many pinching pennies.

This didn’t stop them from making the trip out to Colorado.

“I would come regardless,” said Georgette Duncan. “By hook or crook somehow, I would have walked if I had to. I’m her parent, I’m her mother.”

Even local hotels and restaurants have reported a boom in business.

Manager Erin Yant at upscale Boulder restaurant The Flagstaff House, 1138 Flagstaff Drive, said the restaurant is near booked with reservations and the private rooms are rented out for graduation parties.

“We have some big nights coming up,” said Yant. “Compared to previous years, we aren’t seeing any scaling back at all. In fact, we’ve been doing really well, if not better than last year.”

Valerie Knorr, director of sales at the St. Julian Hotel, 900 Walnut St., said compared to last December, the hotel is seeing the same graduation traffic.

“We’re sold out,” said Knorr. “We are thrilled about this, because December is typically a slow time for us.”

Vincent Ornelas, graduating with a psychology degree, said a lot of his family is attending the ceremony — but it is convenient that most live in the area.

“We’re still celebrating,” said Ornelas. “Maybe not as much as I planned to, probably because of the economy, but I’m still having a celebration with my family and a celebration with my friends.”

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