VINCENNES, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– The Solar Eclipse set to take place on April 8th, 2024 is just about a year away– but that hasn’t stopped one community from starting their preparations.
Vincennes and Knox County officials established a group to help set some of their plans in motion for the project. Sarah Wolfe, the eclipse director, said they are preparing for as many as 100,000 visitors on the day of the eclipse.
“We’re anticipating, you know, some people say 10,000, some people say 50,000, some people say 100,000 people will be coming here for that weekend. Our plan is for that Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, the day of the eclipse, that we have a jam-packed weekend,” she said.
Some residents, like Fernando Lozano, are already excited to show off their community.
“Obviously, it’s going to be an incredible, incredible turnout of people. I’m real excited to see them coming, I’m real excited to see show the city. The city, I think, is going to be preparing themselves so what a great opportunity to show the city,” he said. “To be proud of the city.”
Wolfe said they have plans to host multiple festivals and events over the course of the weekend leading up to the eclipse– and they are also working with schools and businesses to make sure they are ready for the increased traffic. One of the biggest thing Wolfe has done is learn from what other communities did during the 2017 eclipse– like in Casper, Wyoming, a city that has documented both the highs and the lows from having thousands come for a chance to see the phenomenon.
“Large opportunities like this don’t come to these areas all the time. We’re incredibly lucky. The line of totality crosses right over this bridge. We are a small, rural community, so the idea of having that large of an influx in visitors is something you want to be ready for,” she said. “There’s still a lot of people where this is new information, and we want to make sure nobody wakes up April 8th, 2024 and says, ‘Nobody told me, I didn’t know.’”
Some of those conversations are taking place with local emergency personnel as well.
“You can’t be too prepared for something like this. We’re trying to prepare for every contingency,” she said. “People are still going to have emergencies with all of these people in town when the eclipse is happening. We still have to make sure that our EMS and Sheriff’s Department and Police Department can get from point A to point B across town to help people.”
Wolfe said they are working to establish committees to help with education and outreach over the next several months. She said they wanted to encourage people to share their ideas– and they can see what they make into a reality– especially as local hotels are soon going to be booked, according to Wolfe.
“One thing that people need to consider is how they can use this opportunity for themselves. If you would like to offer camping or tent sites on your property, that’s something to consider. We will have forms in place soon so we can guide people through that process,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for everyone who lives here to tell the story of what they do.”
It is still a long road ahead for Wolfe and the entire community– but she believes it will be worth it for the three minutes of total darkness they will experience.
“It’s rare that we collectively as humans get to experience something all at once like that,” she said. “Where you know for at least a few of those moments on that eclipse day that everyone is going to be completely frozen, and we’re all going to be looking at the same thing and thinking about the same thing.”