2017 will be the first time a total solar eclipse is visible across the entire United States mainland since 1918, almost a century ago, and the first time ever that it will be visible from Northeast Kansas. Companies are cashing in on this uncommon phenomenon, from national chains to local businesses. Hotels are booked solid, schools are canceling class, restaurants are cooking mass amounts of food in advance, and businesses that are normally closed on Sundays will be open for the thousands of people traveling from around the country and the world to watch the moon pass in front of the sun for two minutes.
Companies nationwide are integrating the eclipse into their marketing. Krispy Kreme is selling chocolate glazed donuts for the first time, Snake River Roasting in Jackson, Wyoming created eclipse coffee and it’s “selling like mad,” and Royal Caribbean is offering a week-long cruise that will see the eclipse from the ocean.
Emergency rooms are prepared to be overcrowded with people who unintentionally hurt their eyes looking directly at the eclipse without proper viewing glasses, despite repeated warnings not to do so. The eclipse requires special glasses with polymer film lenses that transmit only 0.004% of sunlight, making it safe on the eyes for extended gazes at the sun. Over the past months those glasses have sold like hot cakes. One Topeka man, Mike Ford, loves everything astronomical and owns eclipsestuff.com with his wife Karen. They have sold over 14,000 pairs of glasses and also sell “Eclipse ‘17” shirts and hats. Ford watched an eclipse in Canada in 1979 and knows from personal experience how amazing it is to see.
A small town in Kentucky called Hopkinsville expects more traffic than ever for the solar event. The lesser-known town is nicknamed “Eclipseville” because it has the closest proximity to the eclipse. Viewers there will see the total eclipse for 2 minutes and 40 seconds, one of the longest durations in the country. Hopkinsville’s population is around 31,000 and they are expecting over 100,000 visitors from 37 states and 14 countries. Local business owners are promoting big parties and are anxious about serving over three times as many people in a single weekend, like Casey Jones Distillery, which will sell eclipse-themed cocktails. Brooke Jung, marketing and events consultant in Hopkinsville, says it’s like “hosting the Super Bowl without having to build a stadium.” This may be the only time in history that Hopkinsville, Kentucky is a major vacation destination.
The solar eclipse is expected to pass over Kansas City on Monday, August 21 between 11:40 a.m. and 2:35 p.m. Don’t miss this once in a lifetime occurrence.