Thursday, April 13, 2017

S.C. cities and towns: As sky goes dark, it’s time to shine

With visitors coming from around the world to experience a total solar eclipse on August 21 — the likes of which hasn’t happened for 99 years — some 140 South Carolina cities and towns are uniquely positioned to offer residents and visitors a phenomenal couple of minutes. 

But with a bit of planning, the approximately 2 ½-minute event (length depends on where a city sits inside the path of the eclipse) can have a lasting impact on a city’s image and economic development potential.

“An eclipse like this is a humbling, jaw-dropping experience that stays with you for the rest of your life,” said Tracie Broom, co-founding partner of Flock and Rally, the Columbia-based marketing firm that is leading the Midlands’ eclipse campaign. “It’s going to be a profound experience.” 

Any town or city “in the path of the totality” can use the once-in-a-lifetime event to showcase its unique appeal. Tracie said, “Plan a free public viewing event, make sure there is some shade and cool beverages, hire someone to manage parking, traffic and sanitation, coordinate with public safety officials and logistics organizers, and finally, make sure you’ve advertised the event.” 

The City of Columbia’s eclipse website is already chock full of lots of great resources other cities can use to prepare for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. The press kit can be especially valuable to get planning started in a city of any size. Tracie also points to eclipse planning guide on the website that can be helpful.

“You can have an incredible economic impact,” she said, adding that people from England have already booked reservations to experience the eclipse in Columbia.
The state’s capital city is the nation’s third largest city on the center line of the path of totality, with the longest duration of a 100 percent total solar eclipse on the East Coast, according to the campaign’s website. 

“If you’ve got any tourism assets, pull ’em out, shine ’em up and put ’em on display,” Tracie said.

The Municipal Association is gathering information about what cities are planning and will soon be posting this information on its website. Also, the Association will be sharing ideas and tips for cities interested in hosting viewing events. Stay tuned.

To add local events to the Association's eclipse page, contact Reba Campbell.

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