NASA helps affirm Andrews as Totality Town USA
With the best seat in the house for the total solar eclipse Andrews embraces the title of “Totality Town.”
On Monday, the National Solar Observatory made a statement, supporting Andrews’ claim to the title of Totality Town. NASA also recently listed Andrews as an event location on its website and plans to collect data the day of the eclipse at Andrews Middle School.
Since last week, Zack Stockbridge, astronomy instructor at Tri-County Community College, and eclipse event coordinator, said Andrews Town Hall has received over three dozen calls inquiring about places to observe and stay in the valley. He said many of them called after noticing Andrews on NASA’s website.
Since January, Andrews Middle has gone into overdrive with eclipse preparations. Principal Julie Higdon said more than 100 families have paid for camping spots on campus.
“We’re excited because we’ve had people from all over the United States contact us about visiting,” she said.
“It just sort of spiraled pleasantly out of control.”
Andrews Middle will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner on Sunday, Aug. 20, and Monday, Aug. 21. Higdon recommends pre-ordering meals while supplies last.
In order to keep the event community-centered, all of the food will be provided by local farmers markets.
The day before the eclipse, inflatable playgrounds, bouncy houses, food and craft vendors, and educational booths will flood the middle school’s grounds. The school will also hold an outdoor movie showing.
“I saw the spreadsheet the other day and it took my breath away seeing how many people are coming there,” Cherokee County Schools superintendent Jeana Conley said. “I’m really proud that the school has stepped up.”
Conley is allowing teachers who volunteer during the eclipse to count Monday, Aug. 21 as a workday.
Stockbridge recently created a Totality Town Passport. Modeled off of the National Parks Passport program, people will be able to purchase a passport and receive a stamp for every landmark they visit.
The stamps can be collected at key eclipse event sites, including the Andrews Public Library, Andrews First United Methodist Church, The Open Porch and various outdoor locations.
Through the help of Lowe’s employees, Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel and a few local individuals, Andrews now has two dozen official eclipse guides. Stockbridge said ideally hopes to accumulate 100 volunteers.
People who become eclipse guides will receive a free T-shirt and three weeks of discounts from local restaurants.
For those interested in becoming an eclipse guide for the Aug. 21 event, contact the town clerk Denise Bowden at 321-5111.