Cities prepare for total solar eclipse in August - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Cities prepare for total solar eclipse in August

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RAVENNA, NE (KTIV) -

On August 21, 2017, a rare event will happen, a total solar eclipse will take place over the United States. The moon will move in front of the sun and completely block it.

Much of Nebraska will be a prime location to view the event and communities in the cornhusker state are using the opportunity to attract people from all over the world.

While total eclipses happen frequently, they are often most visible in locations which are hard to get to.

"This has been touted as the most accessible eclipse that has ever happened," said Alexander Duryea, NE Tourism Eco Tourism Consultant.

"The majority of them do happen over bodies of water versus over land. That means taking a cruise or investing that much more into the ability to get to where you need to be. So this is literally in our backyard for us and it's something we're excited to take advantage of," said Gena McPherson, Ravenna Chamber Executive Director.

With such a rare event happening in the skies over Nebraska, it's inevitable that people will be coming here from all over. And towns across the state are ready to take advantage of the day when things go dark.

Ravenna is one Nebraska community making major preparations for the big day.

The town of 1,300 is located directly in the path of totality.

That is where the total eclipse is visible.

The event will have people from around the world coming to the area.

"From the beginning, they've said anywhere from 5,000 to 15,000 people. And remember our town is only 1,300 people. All the hotels in our neighboring cities, Kearney and Grand Island, are basically full. So we know that's thousands of guaranteed rooms that are full so we know these people are coming." said McPherson.

Many smaller towns across the state have partnered with surrounding larger communities to make sure they can accommodate the wave of visitors.

"It's really created a cool relationship between some of the larger communities and the smaller communities. For example, Kearney and Ravenna. Kearney is working really well with Ravenna which has more time than Kearney does but Kearney has the lodging for these folks to come out," said Duryea.

"That's opened up a lot of relationships that maybe not would have been there before. Which is really exciting because moving forward those relationships are so important," said McPherson.

Ravenna has decided to embrace the opportunity to promote the community.

"We're planning a full weekend. We're going to call it 'Ravenna's Hometown Eclipse Festival' and that will be from August 18th through the 21st," said McPherson.

Events include a parade, volleyball tournament, and a music festival.

There will also be food and souvenir venues throughout the weekend.

One of the main concerns with the festivities is crowd control.

"We spread these people out instead of having them all congested in one area is going to be very important. That's definitely one of our big preparation goals is to have as many viewing locations as possible to keep people safe and to keep them not in a big cluster," said McPherson.

They are also using the opportunity to make improvements to the town.

The town is hoping to use the event as a springboard for a brighter future.

"This is now a vacation experience. It's not just a one day 'I get to see it and now I'm gone'. People are spending the time and money to do this so this is an experience they want to get the most of. So that's the exciting thing to keep in mind when we're planning this: how are we getting them to come back? How are we getting them to come back to our town and how do we get them to come back to Nebraska? We don't want to waste that opportunity and we're definitely not going to," said McPherson.

And for locations outside the path of totality, such as here in Siouxland, the trip to a location seeing a total eclipse is worth it.

"I highly recommend to get yourself in the path of totality because it's a once in a lifetime experience for most of us." said Duryea.

Experts said it is extremely important to have appropriate eyewear to view the eclipse.

Glasses with a CE certification must be worn for the entire eclipse other than when the sun is completely obscured to avoid eye damage.

All of Siouxland will see a partial solar eclipse which is more common.

More information on both Ravenna's events and about the eclipse in general in Nebraska can be found here: http://myravenna.com/events/action~agenda/page_offset~2/request_format~html/.

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