SWEETWATER (WATE) – The Great American Eclipse is now just three days away and several small communities are bracing for tens of thousands of people.
Monroe County and parts of McMinn County seem to be attracting the most interest in East Tennessee, so WATE 6 On Your Side set out to find out how several spots are preparing and to show a few interesting alternatives you may not have thought of.
The first stop, Sweetwater, is where the WATE 6 On Your Side team will be headquartered on Monday. With an estimated 50,000 people expected here and the hot forecast, First United Methodist Church has decided to open its doors as well.
“We are going to have a comfort station in our family life center so people can get out of heat have a snack, use the facilities and maybe enjoy some fellowship,” said Anne Wilson with the church.
Just down the road in Philadelphia, another family friendly celebration will held at Sweetwater Valley Farm. Marketing Director Mary Lyndal Harrison explained how things will work Monday.
“This whole field will be full of people and the surrounding fields… we hope!” she said.
There will be food trucks set up near The Udder Story Barn, cheese making, games and more. Parking is free and 900 spots have already been reserved.
“It has been crazy, just the amount of interest. It’s stressful and rewarding that people want to spend time in our county,” said Harrison.
A little further South in Tellico Plains, they are busy putting the final touches on their three day celebration.
The event here will be centered around The Charles Hall Museum. There will be solar eclipse art for sale, T-shirts, a commemorative post card and so much more. A 16 acre field will be used for parking and camping. Organizer Pamela Hall Matthews says all this excitement reminds her of the good ole’ days here,
More online: Charles Hall Museum
“To me it just feels like the wagon trail days to me. It just feels awesome. I just want everyone to feel like a VIP.” She went on to say, “You know we talk about our big backyard, I just want them to see our big hearts.”
And if you are looking for something unique, how about watching the eclipse underwater? It can be a reality at Loch Low-Minn Scuba Diving Resort in Athens. The owner, Alexandre Smirnov, says it was a last minute decision to open up for the eclipse.
“We have very nice place here and divers appreciate that, but this is a one-time special event, so I decided to open for non-divers as well,” said Smirnov.
The resort can accommodate 80 divers and two fields will offer separate parking and viewing areas away from the water for non-divers and their families. The Farragut High School Robotics team will be on hand selling refreshments and doing demonstrations. They will get a percentage of all profits.