Meetings, Destinations Get Ready for Solar Eclipse

The solar eclipse will happen in less than two weeks, and while your main concern may be where to go to watch it, event planners, associations, and destinations are preparing for it as well.

Who else is excited about the August 21 solar eclipse? The first to touch the U.S. mainland since 1979 and the first to span the continent since 1918, the eclipse will be viewable to 500 million people. I’ve already ordered the proper eye protection (which also happens to be association-approved).

And, besides enthusiastic viewers like myself, the event is top of mind for many others— including some people you may be surprised by, such event planners, CVB staffers, and venue managers.

I hadn’t thought about that sides of things myself, until I came across an article in The Washington Post this week about how the Little League World Series is going to handle the eclipse, which will pass through its Williamsport, Pennsylvania, complex a little after 1 p.m.

LLWS organizers plan to hand out about 30,000 pairs of glasses to fans who enter the complex. Spokesman Kevin Fountain told that players, managers, and umpires will also be given glasses—but they can’t be worn on the field—and that they will be educated in the days leading up to the eclipse about the dangers of looking directly at it without protective eyewear. Since both ball fields are equipped with lights, officials plan to turn them on to allow play to continue when the eclipse begins.

However, LLWS organizers aren’t the only ones taking the eclipse into account. Destinations, venues—even an association or two—are making the most of the historic event, particularly those in the “path of totality.”

For example, one association—American Athiests—is hosting its 2017 National Convention in North Charleston, South Carolina, during the eclipse. The location is the last major city in the eclipse’s path, and to celebrate, AA will be hosting a viewing party. All attendees will receive viewing glasses and snacks.

Then there’s the North American Sundial Society, which intentionally scheduled its 2017 Annual Conference in St. Louis—which lies in the path of totality—so its members and other attendees can watch the astronomical phenomenon together. The Astronomical League took a similar approach, hosting ASTROCON 2017 in Casper, Wyoming—another location in the path—in the days leading up to the eclipse.

CVBs are also gearing up for additional visitors or marketing eclipse-related events. Explore St. Louis has a list of events on its website. Among the options: viewing parties at the St. Louis Children’s Museum and Gateway Arch and a free event at Jefferson Barracks Park. The Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis is getting on board by offering guests a package that includes a one-night stay, two pairs of viewing glasses, and a gourmet to-go picnic basket so guests can watch from the location of their choosing.

In Nashville, one of four state capitals in the path of totality, there will be a Total Eclipse Plaza Party at the Grand Ole Opry and a viewing party with the city’s mayor at First Tennessee Park. Heck, Visit Music City—Nashville’s CVB—is even offering an eclipse-themed Spotify playlist and an official Music City Solar Eclipse T-shirt.

And if you’re still finalizing where you’ll be for the solar eclipse (don’t worry, you still have 10 days), you may want to check out Smart Meetings’ list of eight sites along its path. No matter where you are, enjoy—and don’t forget those viewing glasses!

Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

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