SWEETWATER (WATE) – The 2017 total solar eclipse isn’t until this summer, but some people in East Tennessee are already starting the countdown to August 21.
“It’s coming and it’s a big deal,” said Kelli Maniscalco, the owner of Dogwood Lane Boutique.
Everywhere you go in Sweetwater, people know this eclipse is coming.
“We’re in the path of totality so like it or not, it’s coming to town,” Maniscalco said.
With it, tens of thousands of people are expected, some from around the world, all to watch something as rare as a total solar eclipse in the small town of Sweetwater.
“It’s pretty rare. The last one that was coast-to-coast in the United States was in the early 1900s,” said Sweetwater Eclipse Festival Co-chair Jessica Morgan. “So most people alive today have not seen a total eclipse if they’ve been in East Tennessee.”
That is why on August 21 when that eclipse sweeps across the country from Oregon to South Carolina, many people will flock to East Tennessee to see it.
“We’ve always had a great location along I-75, so it’ll be easy to drive from several major airports. And I think that’s one of the reasons why so many people are focused on our area,” said Morgan.
The City of Sweetwater has been planning for this total solar eclipse as far as two years in advance, even though it’s expected to last less than three minutes.
“Two minutes and 37 seconds. We’ve been planning two years for two minutes and 37 seconds,” Morgan laughed.
Those two minutes and 37 seconds are the length of totality for this total solar eclipse, meaning that’s how long the moon will completely cover the sun. Before and after, the eclipse will be in its partial phase. That’s also when it’s the most dangerous.
All the hotels and campgrounds in Sweetwater are booked and sold out months before the eclipse, but you can still watch the spectacle from the Sweetwater. Just make sure to prepare for all the eclipse traffic that day.
“Probably for East Tennessee this is the eclipse that people will remember and talk about for years,” Morgan said.