loading...

Eclipse excitement seizes U.S., with festivals and a mass wedding planned – NBC News

3 minutes, 44 seconds Read

Weather permitting, cities and towns along the path of totality intend to make the most of their fortuitous placement.

More than a century has passed since a total solar eclipse was visible from Arkansas, so many people in the state are going all out, said Kelly Farrell, chief of interpretation and program services at Arkansas State Parks.

“This is a huge moment for Arkansas,” she said. “Our last two eclipses with totality across Arkansas were in 1834 and 1918 … no one that lives here has seen totality over our state.”

Celebrations across the state range from the reverent to the romantic. In Russellville, a city roughly 75 miles northwest of Little Rock, some 300 couples are set to get married in a mass ceremony held just before the moon fully slips between Earth and the sun.

Other activities have already begun, including a workshop held this week in Mountain View, Arkansas, to create eclipse-themed, stained-glass suncatchers.

“It can even become an heirloom piece passed on for generations,” Farrell said.

This weekend, Arkansas State Parks will host solar eclipse talks and safety demonstrations, ranger-led hikes, kayak tours and music and art festivals.

Accommodations within the state parks in the path are fully booked, Farrell said: “The anticipation is definitely high.”

Campgrounds in other states are seeing similarly high levels of interest, according to Toby O’Rourke, president and CEO of Kampgrounds of America, which operates more than 500 privately owned campgrounds around the country.

She said the company has seen a surge of interest related to the eclipse, adding that eight of the 41 KOA campgrounds within the path of totality are completely sold out.

“It’s a natural fit with camping because you’re already outdoors under the stars,” O’Rourke said.

For smaller cities in the path of totality, the eclipse will bring a huge bump in tourism.

Susan Edwards, who owns a rock shop in Paducah, Kentucky, started thinking a year and a half ago about plans for eclipse programming in her community of almost 27,000 residents. Since then, she has been working with the local leaders in Paducah, which has the distinction of also having been along the path of totality the last time a total solar eclipse crossed the U.S. in 2017.

The city is right around where those two paths cross, which inspired the “X Marks the Spot Festival“ that will be held there Sunday and Monday.

“My point was: This is going to happen whether we put out port-a-potties and plan fun things for people to do, so let’s be prepared and let’s ride that wave rather than getting run over by it,” Edwards said.

At the festival, local businesses will offer eclipse-themed food, beverages and clothing. Programming will include games, science talks, telescopes for stargazing, yoga and meditation, according to Whitney Ravellette Wallace, co-founder and executive director of Beautiful Paducah, a local nonprofit group.

In 2017, an estimated 10,000 people descended on this part of western Kentucky to see the solar eclipse, though Wallace said that she thinks the actual number was higher. Once again this year, she said, “all of our hotels have been pretty much booked out for a while.”

Less than 100 miles away, Carbondale, Illinois, will experience one of the longest stretches of totality — 4 minutes and 9 seconds of darkness — because of its location close to the center of the path of totality.

Monday classes at Southern Illinois University have been canceled as the school plays host to a big public viewing event in its football stadium. The city was also in the path of totality in 2017, so it has dubbed itself the “eclipse crossroads of America.”

“I like to tell people that a total solar eclipse is a personal, spiritual experience,” said Corinne Brevik, an assistant professor in the School of Physics and Applied Physics at Southern Illinois University. “It’s one of those events in life that help us connect to the universe we live in.”

Carbondale is preparing for big crowds, but their actual size will likely depend on the weather. Forecasters are predicting cloudy conditions across parts of the Midwest and in Texas on Monday.

In Arkansas, the forecast shows clouds across much of the state, but Farrell is not letting that dampen her spirits.

“It would be disappointing if it’s cloudy, but it’s also a way to respect and experience the power of what nature is,” she said. “The exciting thing about watching what nature is doing in the sky is also acknowledging nature will do what it will.”

This post was originally published on this site

Similar Posts