It seems the moon blotting out the sun is always an occasion for partying, doom predictions, paranoia, and lots of YouTube clips, and of course America does it bigger. Sales of viewing goggles and T shirts are soaring, and although this is an older article, it gives some idea of the forthcoming “lunacy” (pun intended).
April 4, 2017 by Beth J. Harpaz
Get ready for solar eclipse mania. Destinations in the path of the Aug. 21 eclipse, which will be visible in the U.S. along a narrow path from Oregon to South Carolina, are going wild with plans for festivals, concerts and viewing parties .
Hotels in Casper, Wyoming, are charging five times their usual rates. Rooms at Idaho’s Sun Valley Resort have been booked for years.
An eclipse tour in Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park sold out in 10 minutes. The Smokies are among 20 National Park sites that will experience the total solar eclipse, from sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina to Wyoming’s Grand Tetons. “We are expecting record visitation,” said NPS spokesman Jeffrey Olson.
Hopkinsville, Kentucky, population 32,000, and Carbondale, Illinois, population 23,000, expect 50,000 visitors each. The destinations, 140 miles apart, will experience about 2 minutes and 40 seconds of total darkness, among eclipse sites with the longest duration. Events in the region include an “Eclipse Con” festival, concerts and tailgate parties.
South Carolina’s Clemson University also expects 50,000 people at a campus event that will feature astronomers and other experts. Twenty thousand people will gather in the Ochocho National Forest for Oregon Eclipse 2017, with music, yoga, theater, art installations and more. Wind River Reservation in Wyoming hosts “bring back the sun” ceremonies.
In this Aug. 31, 1932, file photo, eclipse watchers squint through protective film as they view a partial eclipse of the sun from the top deck of New York’s Empire State Building in New York.
A Pink Floyd Tribute band plans a “Dark Side of the Moon” concert in Jefferson City, Missouri. The South Carolina Philharmonic in Columbia offers “Star Wars Musiclipse.” Sylva, North Carolina, has a “Moonlight Madness” run.
Sharon Hahs and her husband, Billy, have chased 14 eclipses around the world from Mongolia to South Africa. They’ll see this one from a family farm in Missouri, not far from their St. Louis home.
“There is nothing else in our universe that looks like a total solar eclipse,” said Hahs. “The air gets cool. You have 360-degree dusk. Nature sounds really happen: the cock crows, birds get quiet. We even had a horse cross our viewing area to return to the stable.”
Michael Allen of Southampton, England, is a “keen amateur astronomer” who considers the eclipse “a once in a lifetime opportunity.” He can’t travel alone because he has cerebral palsy and epilepsy, so his brother Nick is accompanying him on a three-day tour to Nashville with eclipse-viewing at the Kentucky border.
Jack Bohannon of Anchorage, Alaska, plans to see the eclipse in Nebraska as the “culmination of a summer-long RV trip” with family. “We were originally going to book an RV park in the eclipse path in Wyoming, but everywhere was full,” he said.
In small or remote destinations, hotels and campsites in the path of totality are completely sold out. But bigger cities still have openings. As of March 25, Nashville hotels were only 54 percent booked.
Don’t assume lodging is sold out because a travel booking site says so. Call hotels directly to ask.
Many hotels are offering eclipse packages. Nashville’s Loews Vanderbilt package includes eclipse viewing glasses, commemorative T-shirt, Uber gift card and bar credit. Hotel Jackson in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, has an “eclipse concierge” to help guests plan their $699-a-night stay.
Consumers in Oregon have complained about hotels canceling reservations they made long ago, claiming rebranding or new ownership, then charging much higher rates for rebooking.