Depending on whom one talks to there could be as many as one million people pouring into Oregon for the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21.
The eclipse, which has fostered a number of multi-day events along the path of totality in Oregon, has led the state, counties and cities to hope for the best and expect the worse. Marion County’s emergency management office is expecting 50,000 to 200,000 visitors to the county.
There are too many unknowns so every municipality, including Keizer, must plan for a crush of people, cars and recreational vehicles. Are the throngs expected in Marion County coming from near or from far? That is a big unknown. If most are coming from out of state, we can expect them to stay around for a few days. If, on the other hand, a majority are coming inside Oregon (where the eclipse is not viewable), then we would expect those visitors to come for the day of the solar event and then go home.
Local leaders are not taking anything for granted. Mayor Cathy Clark and others are imploring residents to be prepared for the onslaught of visitors in August. It is akin to preparing for a disaster such as a hurricane, only it is not a disaster, it’s an opportunity. Local residents are advised to get all their vehicles filled with gas and stock up on goods from the grocery store. You would think they are preparing for a swarm of locusts, coming in, buying up everything at our stores, buying all of gas, taking all the money out of our local ATMs.
All of that may come to pass, or the hype may be grander than the reality. Nobody knows.
Whichever turns out to be true, there are two truths we do know. We are grateful that our local and state governments are prepared to assure that an additional 200,000 or one million visitors does not adversely affect our lives. And, any number of visistors to our area should be seen as an economic boon.
Every business, large and small, can tap into the Eclipse Economy with special promotions and products. An event such as this was made for the entrepeneurial spirit. Restaurants can create eclipse themed items, t-shirts and other commemorative items can be created and sold, with such tag lines as “I didn’t see the sun in Oregon. Total Eclipse, August 21, 2017.”
The Keizer Parks Foundation the Keizer Festival Advisory Board (KFAB) are spearheading our own eclipse event at Keizer Rapids Park. More than 150 RV and tent camping sites are being prepared for the eclipse weekend beginning on the Thursday before the Monday event.
There will be musical entertainment on the Keizer Rotary Amphitheatre stage for four days. Activities in the park and on the river are being planned to show visitors the best that Keizer has to offer.
Those who did not plan ahead and travel to Marion County for the eclipse on a whim will find lodging choices very limited. The camp sites at Keizer Rapids Park will most likely be fully booked by the first of August. Keizer residents may consider booking a site for their friends and families.
Keizer should be thankful to get its share of the tens of thousands of visitors into the county in August. The city is looking very good; we want people to go away with positive thoughts about Keizer and its residents.