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Total eclipse, almost totally prepared

Total eclipse, almost totally prepared

July 14th, 2017 by Helen Wilbers in Local News

Darren Wernig, city of Fulton's public information officer, demonstrates a partial eclipse with commemorative golf balls. The golf balls will be sold at the Tanglewood Golf Course beginning Aug. 1, he said.

Photo by Helen Wilbers /Fulton Sun.

With just more than a month to go until the moon blots out the sun above Callaway County, the "Light and Shadow" planning committee is hard at work planning festivities.

Meanwhile, people from across the world are planning their paths to Callaway County for the Aug. 21 total eclipse.

"We got an email from (a family in) the U.K.: 'We're coming, we're renting an RV,'" said Carol Trokey, a supervisory forester at the Mark Twain National Forest. "That's the farthest I've had."

Committee members met Thursday at Serenity Valley Winery to review the latest information about the eclipse.

"I did an update with the hotels, and right now, they're about 95-98 percent full," tourism director Renee Graham said.

She's heard from people from Wisconsin, Colorado, and far beyond. Locally, she said, many people are planning their own viewing parties and inviting family and friends.

"There's a family who's having a family reunion that weekend around the eclipse," Graham said.

While the planning committee has been preparing for months, Graham urged residents to have a plan in place as well.

"Don't wait until the weekend before to go shopping for chips and trash bags," she said.

She also suggested gassing up vehicles in advance, as traffic is likely to be intense. The westbound ramp to Interstate 70 at Kingdom City may be closed for construction, possibly compounding traffic woes, although state highway officials have not finalized a timetable, she noted.

In other words, treat this natural wonder a little like a natural disaster, and don't procrastinate on the day of, either.

"Think of it as a day-long tailgate," Graham suggested. "You need to arrive early, you need to have provisions to stay awhile, and you need to expect to stay around afterwards as well. If everyone tries to leave at once (there will be gridlock)."

For the rest of visitors' and locals' planning needs, go to visitfulton.com/eclipse.

"I'll be updating it until the day of the eclipse," Graham said.

The site lists all events and viewing locations for the eclipse, along with links to viewing safety tips and suggestions about where to find eclipse viewing glasses.

"We're going through a lot of them," said Barb Huddleston, a director at the Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society.

Glasses cost $1, and funds raised will be going to local not-for-profits.

Glasses will also be available for free 6-8 p.m. Aug. 18 at William Woods University's Light and Shadow Gallery reception, which will feature some 50-100 pieces from around the country. The Art House will also have a reception on the same day from 5-7 p.m., which will feature art from local amateur artists as well as professionals.

"Everything is lining up very well," Cox Gallery coordinator Nicole Petrescu said.

Graham announced Westminster College's planned event during the meeting: a concert and program at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury.

The church was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, who was an astronomer before he was an architect. Beginning at 2 p.m. Aug. 20, the church will be filled with organ music interesting facts about Wren's work and Sir Winston Churchill's essay "Are We Alone in the Universe?"

Clarification: The original version of this story stated the westbound ramp of I-70 at Kingdom City would be closed for construction during the Aug. 21 eclipse. Renee Graham has clarified the closure is only a possibility and MoDOT has not finalized construction dates.