Solar Eclipse Viewing

Thousands of visitors gathered in the St. Clair area to view the anticipated solar eclipse Monday afternoon. Travelers not only came from around the U.S. but also from Europe and Asia.

Missourian Photo

The city of St. Clair was packed with thousands of people Monday for the solar eclipse and local authorities report the day, as well as the weekend, went smoother than expected.

St. Clair’s population was predicted to triple in size and police and first responders prepared for traffic pile ups and an increased number of calls for service. According to City Administrator Travis Dierker, an estimated 75,000 visitors from around the country and the world came to the St. Clair area. He said that number is based on the number of cars counted by area officials.

The eclipse celebration started Friday evening with a parade and fireworks followed by a bluegrass festival Saturday and car show Sunday. Police Chief Bill Hammack said no arrests were made the entire weekend nor on Monday.

“We had to put a lot of hours in but it was a very pleasant weekend. All the events were nicely run. Everybody who attended the events were well behaved,” Hammack said.

On Monday, Main Street was filled with travelers and businesses selling food, drinks and handing out bottles of water. City Administrator Travis Dierker said thousands of visitors were at Orchard Park among other viewing sites in town.

“There were a lot of people,” Hammack said. “In the 30 years I’ve been here, that’s the most people by far that I’ve ever seen in this town.”

Fire Capt. Dan Cooley said the weekend and Monday were slow for the fire district with minimal calls related to medical needs.

“It was not what we were expecting,” Cooley said. “We really expected the worst and hoped for the best and we ended up getting the best.”

St. Clair Ambulance District Chief Nick Tepleman said there were only two heat related illnesses Sunday, and one accidental injury and heat related illness Monday.

“That’s pretty amazing. I was expecting a little more heat related stuff, but everybody came prepared it seemed like,” Tepleman said.

Dierker said the weekend and Monday was a success. He gave gratitude to those who participated in putting on the weekend events and fire and police.

In addition to those who traveled from other countries, “It was wonderful to meet and greet all kinds of people from across the nation,” Dierker said.

After watching the solar eclipse, Dierker said he understood why so many people traveled from a far to watch it.

“(The eclipse) brought tears to my eyes,” Dierker said. “It was definitely an awe moment.”

Hammack said he spoke to people from a number of countries including the U.K., France Italy, Spain, Israel, Colombia, Argentina, South Korea, Japan, Australia and more.

Additionally, County EMA Director Abe Cook said there were no incidents or major emergency responses reported associated with the eclipse festivities.