Never has a few seconds of darkness received so much attention, but Beatrice-area officials are gearing up to capitalize on a total solar eclipse, scheduled for August of next year.
Gage County is smack dab in the middle of a pathway where the total eclipse will last the longest, 2 minutes, 35 seconds.
Beatrice Area Chamber of Commerce President Lora Young is ready to print t-shirts.
Young says, “We’re going to go with a humorous twist and right now we’re marketing, ‘Come get mooned in Beatrice/Gage County,’ and our t-shirts are going to say, ‘I got mooned.'”
Events are being planned for Friday night and weekend leading up to the full eclipse on Monday, August 21st. Safety will be a key concern, with plans to sell special glasses that allow people to view the eclipse without damaging their eyes.
Young says the chamber is getting regular inquiries from sky-watching organizations planning to drive or fly in for the rare event.
“The Minnesota Astronomical Society group is one of the largest in the country,” Young says. “Because of our ad in ‘Sky and Telescope,’ they have reached out to me and several members already have hotel reservations and they look to bring a majority of their club to Beatrice.”
At least four areas in the county are planning to host events: Pickrell, Virginia, the Homestead National Monument and the Gage County Fairgrounds in Beatrice.
Despite jokes about the eclipse, Gage County Board member Gary Lytle says there are people who take it very seriously.
“We talked about the guy that jumped in the jet and flew to Russia and watched the darn thing and turned around and flew right back,” Lytle says. “Man, they’re out there.”
Young says in that instance, there were enough people interested to charter two jets flying across the ocean to follow the eclipse.
By Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice