It’s a jam-packed weekend in Erie for young athletes. Two events are expected to pump millions of dollars into the local economy.

Thousands of athletes from across the region took over as the Erie Gymnastics Center hosted the 22nd annual Stars and Stripe Gymnastics Invitational at the Bayfront Convention Center.

Founded in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the event offers free admission to all members of the military, police, fire and rescue workers.

It’s the largest gymnastics event that takes place in Pennsylvania and runs Fri., Jan. 13 through Mon., Jan. 16 for Martin Luther King Jr. weekend.

Not only is this a great youth competition to come to Erie, but a portion of proceeds are going to benefit first responders.

“As part of that all military, police, fire and rescue workers get free admission to the event. And at the end of the event, they donate some of the proceeds from this event to military police and fire rescue organizations, ” said Chris Rosato Jr., Erie Sports Commission Events and Marketing Manager.

They’ve donated over $100,000 since the creation of the event.

This weekend is also one of the most important weekends in the year as it boosts Erie’s economy. Rosato said he is expecting $3.5 million in economic impact. He said this event shows that Erie can be a four season destination and host large events that have national recognition.

One competitor is very excited to travel to Erie from New York.

“It was a good drive. Usually it’s really snowy when we come, but it was really clear today. We’re pretty hype today, and we’re all excited, and we’re going to have a great meet,” said Marin Gill, GSA competitor.

“The sports industry in Erie does not slow down in the winter, it just heats up. So, we’ve got lots of young families, lots of young athletes coming to town. When it takes a little longer to eat in restaurants just know that that’s all the economic activity that’s coming.” Rosato Jr. explained.

TCS hockey is also hosting their Erie MLK Ice Cup through Monday with 55 youth teams competing at the Erie Sports Bank Park, Erie Insurance Arena and Mercyhurst University. A full tournament schedule can be found at the Erie Sports Commission website.