The St. Clair Area Chamber of Commerce meeting Aug. 30 was filled with rounds of applause and smiles from the successes of the solar eclipse festivities.
Planning and preparation of the events were 15 months in the making and organizers shared details of how it went.
Jo Schaper helped put the stclaireclipse.com website together, which included the weekend events, information for lodging, restaurants, maps, parking, view locations and more.
June 1 was when the website went live and as of Aug. 30, there were more than 100,000 views and 52 comments from users throughout 80 countries. On Aug. 20, there were 14,330 views and on Aug. 21, there were 15,801 views, according to Schaper.
“I actually met a gentleman who told me, ‘My mother was Spanish, my father was Croatian, I have a Venezuela citizenship and I have a business in Miami,’ ” Schaper said.
Additionally, she said eclipse Facebook pages reached approximately 25,400 people and received 10,000 views within the month of August.
Chamber Executive Director Charlene Saling gave gratitude for her work.
“She did an absolutely fantastic job. None of this would have been possible without her help,” Saling said.
There were about 30 solar ambassadors who were trained on solar eclipse science and safety, as well as where to go or what to do in town. Schaper mentioned everyone involved.
City Administrator Travis Dierker said the solar eclipse-themed parade Aug. 18 was one of biggest and longer than normal.
“We had people involved from all different groups (and) communities. It was just fantastic to have everybody involved. It was a great kickoff to the weekend,” Dierker said.
Approximately 20-25 different groups participated in the parade including the St. Clair High marching band, church groups, emergency personnel and multiple businesses.
The purpose of the bluegrass festival Aug. 19 was to raise funds for a new civic center, according to Gary Land, president of Jump Start St. Clair.
The festival consisted of several performers including The Clay Hess Band, The Baker Family, The Sterlings, Spike and Janis Huff, Kelsey Brook and Highway 32 at Orchard Park. In addition to music, there were 30 vendors and two raffle drawings.
“We felt the eclipse was a perfect opportunity to do a large scale fundraiser to start getting exposure for that and let people know what all we’re doing,” Land said.
He said at least 250 tickets were sold. The next Jump Start meeting will determine how much money was raised and plans for another fundraiser are in the works.
The “Cruisin’ the Eclipse on Route 66” car show Aug. 20, put on by the St. Clair Area Chamber of Commerce, consisted of 200 antique cars along Main Street.
The first-place modified winner was Kyle Wissmann with his 1969 Ford F100; stock class winner was Tom Bartolotta with his 1970 Plymouth AAR ‘Cuda; and the winner of the burn-out contest was McKenzie Ruff.
“The car show, I’m going to say it was a success,” Tim Davis said.
“It was a great event, I was glad to do it and I’m glad St. Clair stepped up.”
Throughout that weekend, he mentioned how he had not seen that many people and visitors in town since he was a child.
“It brought back that memory when I was 5 years old seeing all these cars, all these people packed in every corner of the town,” Davis said.
He said there will be a car show next year and the focus is to make it an even bigger event.
Solar Eclipse Aug. 21
Among the thousands of visitors who made their way to St. Clair for the solar eclipse, Dierker said businesses such as Dana’s Shaved Ice experienced record sales.
How much the city made during the eclipse weekend, Dierker said, he will not know that for months.
“While we’ll see an increase, a lot of the increase was just the exposure and the effects to local businesses,” Dierker said.