Even some of the non-excited people about the solar eclipse admitted it was a sight to see, remember and talk about after Monday’s viewing.
The crowds didn’t hit the numbers that were predicted at most public locations, but the turnout of viewers was strong. Of course, many people viewed the moon show from their own properties. The largest gatherings were at the Washington Fairgrounds and along the riverfront.
The front page picture in this newspaper of the eclipse was a classic. Photo Editor Jeanne Miller Wood and her associate Ethan Busse combined their talents to produce what may be the most gripping picture ever to appear in The Missourian.
The path of the solar eclipse in Missouri was about 300 miles long, 70 miles wide, from St. Joseph to Cape Girardeau. In America, it stretched from Oregon to South Carolina.
There were many visitors in the county from other states. The out-of-state license plates were visible from Saturday through Monday. There were visitors from foreign countries in the county also. We heard a few reports of people renting out their homes to out-of-state visitors for tidy sums. Another report was the renting of an entire motel to a Japanese company for some of its employees.
Some industries here were closed Monday so their employees could have time to go wherever to view the eclipse. Others permitted their employees time off during the eclipse so they could view it.
There were a few traffic jams in this area, but no major problems. All the first responders were either at various posts or were on standby just in case an incident would occur. No major incidents were reported.
Most schoolchildren had the day off, but St. Francis Borgia Regional High School turned the day into a learning experience. Principal Pam Tholen said it was a “once-in-a-lifetime teachable moment” and that it was. The school did an excellent job of teaching what a solar eclipse is, and the students will remember their “once-in-a-lifetime” teachable moment. Probably, most of the students won’t find fault in the fact they had to attend school that day as their memories of the event cling to them.
We don’t blame the schools that were closed Monday. Officials didn’t know what to expect. It was a safety concern, particularly the traffic, that resulted in the canceling of classes.
There was a commercial value to the eclipse. Vendors at the fairgrounds reported good sales, and some businesses also had an increase in their sales. Visitors spend money. For some communities, especially larger cities, it was reported that the eclipse was worth millions of dollars in business. Some motels/hotels had rooms booked a year in advance.
The clouds made viewing better in many locations, including in Franklin County, because of their movement away from the sun at the brief eclipse time. Viewers at St. Joe had rain and clouds, which limited their sight of the eclipse.
It was worth seeing. It was a historic event, educational, and it generated excitement.