Beatrice leaders think their role hosting solar eclipse crowds Monday at the Homestead National Monument of America went extremely well.
Assessing the huge influx of visitors, Brian Daake, Fire and Rescue chief, said the coordinated planning and preparation paid off and that every city employee working the event did their job right.
“You have to sit in the dispatch center sometime when they’re busy,” Daake tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KWBE. “Technology has changed so much, they have about six screens and seemed like 12 keyboards in front of them. The last time I was up there and really paid attention, they had a pen and piece of paper in front of them. It’s amazing what they have to go through.”
Daake said a Beatrice Middle School class taking a traffic count, tallied 210 cars heading south on 6th Street, in one ten-minute period Monday.
Officials estimated at least 20,000 visitors during the solar eclipse. That roughly tripled the population of the Gage County city.
Police Chief Bruce Lang believes his officers did a great job handling all the traffic.
“It was a really neat event from the perspective of it’s not very often that you get to bring that many people to town,” Lang said. “And, quite honestly, you have zero problems with drunk or disorderly, or violence, or criminal mischief – just didn’t have any of that.”
Lang especially thanked the police and fire personnel who were able to help reduce response time during a serious medical call during heavy traffic.
Beatrice Mayor Stan Wirth said every city employee working the event did an outstanding job.
“I really liked the police presence, all weekend long, just to show that we’re there, we’re going to keep people safe,” Wirth said. “I think people feel safe when they see that.”
Officials said setting up a shuttle bus service from various sites around the city to Homestead helped keep traffic under control.
Solar eclipse visitors came to Beatrice from as far away as Russia, according to city officials. They said the biggest out-of-town population seems to have come from Minnesota with quite a few from Canada as well.
Doug Kennedy, KWBE in Beatrice, contributed to this story.