Don’t miss the total solar eclipse on Monday. That’s the final piece of advice from Assistant City Administrator James Schmieder.

“It’s going to be fantastic,” Schmieder said.

Union is near the center of a narrow strip that allows viewers to see the total solar eclipse, dubbed “The Great American Eclipse,” for 2 minutes and 37 seconds, from 1:15:34 p.m. to 1:18:11 p.m.

A partial eclipse will be from 11:48 a.m. until the total eclipse, and then after the total eclipse until about 2:30 p.m.

Union Police Chief Norman Brune reminds residents that traffic in the city may be congested.

“If you don’t have to be out, it might be best to stay home,” he said. “(Union residents have) a front row seat.”

Police presence in the city will be ramped up beginning Friday.

“We’ve prepared as much as we can,” Brune said. “We’re beefing up our presence throughout the weekend and we’ll be ready to add more personnel as the need arises.”

City officials have said they’re expecting in the ballpark of 10,000 to 30,000 visitors for the upcoming eclipse.

Picnic in the Dark

The city will host a Picnic in the Dark total eclipse viewing event in Veterans Memorial Park Monday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Schmieder urged people to plan ahead and reminds residents that they can see the eclipse from anywhere in the city.

Those who do decide to visit the Picnic in the Dark should bring supplies and plan for possible delays.

Business Prep

Area businesses are planning ahead for the expected influx of visitors.

Walmart Assistant Store Manager Tim Arnette said the store has been stocked with sextra merchandise. Sun-themed items, such as Sundrop, Sunkist and Capri Sun drinks will be available.

While managers do expect a busy day, they’re planning for crowds similar to those at Christmas. The store is sold out of solar eclipse viewing glasses.

At Fricks, General Manager Matt Heidmann said he expects an increase in sales and foot traffic through the weekend, but expects to be back to business as usual Monday. The store will close for 20 to 30 minutes for associates to view the total solar eclipse.

As far as merchandise, Heidmann said the store stocked up on snack and non-refrigerated foods for those staying in hotels and on campgrounds.

The store does not have viewing glasses available.

Food establishments said they’re not sure what to expect in terms of crowds.

“People are saying we’re going to get inundated, but is it a Y2K thing, where it’s all hype and no substance?” asked Lenny Aiello, owner of Big Boys Pub and Subs.

To be on the safe side, he bulked up food orders, but other than that, he hasn’t done much.

“I’m not sure how much it’s going to affect us,” he said.

At Hagie’s Nineteen, which is open from 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m., Leah Obermark said she expects the restaurant’s late hours to help with business. Extra food has been ordered and eclipse specials will run.

White Rose will be open normal hours and plans to run eclipse specials, an employee said.

Brent Kluesner, vice president of seven Fas-Trip convenience stores in Franklin County, including locations in the eclipse epicenter of Union and Sullivan, said they are expecting a 20 percent increase in business.

The Missouri Department of Transportation and local authorities have cautioned motorists about potential gridlock on local streets and highways before and after the eclipse.