Preparations underway for Carbondale solar eclipse - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Preparations underway for Carbondale solar eclipse

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CARBONDALE -- Thousands of people will be traveling to southern Illinois next summer to see a piece of history. The countdown is on to the total solar eclipse. 

Even though it's 368 days away, preparations are already underway in Carbondale. Soon the town will have a new title: "The Eclipse Crossroads of America."

"Getting a total solar eclipse in your town is a very rare occurrence," said Diane Regan, City of Carbondale Solar Eclipse Coordinator.

Carbondale is on the path of totality for two total solar eclipses: one in 2017 and another in 2024. 

Regan said, "We've kind of been on radar for awhile as being a place to go."

And word traveled fast.

"Well, the estimates range everywhere from 20,000 to 100,000 or more. It depends on who you ask," said Regan. 

With tens of thousands of people expected in southern Illinois next August, planning is in full swing. 

Regan said, "[We're] wrapping our hands around all of what needs to be addressed."

This includes transportation.

"You have to move folks around and we're going to be moving them from a mile outside of the heart of Carbondale," said Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry. 

Planning also has to take into consideration accommodations.

Henry said, "We know the hotels are going to be booked 50 to 60 miles out."

Navigating the city is also a factor for consideration.

"Signage to me [is important.] Give them a good experience. Get them around easily. Point them where they want to go," said Henry.

There's a lot that goes into hosting a large-scale event like a solar eclipse. 

Henry said, "By the end of this year, we want to have our structure in place and know pretty much what we're doing."

But that's easier said than done. 

Carbondale Tourism Executive Director Cinnamon Smith said, "The biggest challenge I have is really just the massive amounts of organizations that I work with and making sure we are all on the same page."

The city is hoping to keep everyone updated through its new website.

"Everyone wants information and it's going to be key to this event going off smoothly," said Smith. 

With 368 days until the solar eclipse, the City of Carbondale and surrounding communities will be working around the clock to make sure the event brings positive light to southern Illinois.

For more information about the solar eclipse, visit SIU's solar eclipse website or the Carbondale Tourism's solar eclipse website. 

If you have questions or would like to get involved, send an email.

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