St. Albans is in the center of totality for this spring’s eclipse. How is the area preparing?
Vermont will experience a total solar eclipse on April 8, and St. Albans town and city lie directly in the path of totality. That means an area with fewer than 15,000 people is about to get a lot of visitors—tens of thousands of visitors, to be more exact.
Arleigh Young, the planning and development coordinator for St. Albans city, said the state of Vermont is estimating about 200,000 people will visit for the eclipse, but stressed that it doesn't mean 200,000 will come to St. Albans.
"There are a lot of great events that are spread across [the state], from Burlington, all the way up to Newport, and in the northern reaches of our state. That 200,000 has to be spread across all of those places," she said. For their city center event, Young said they are projecting crowds around 5,000 but it could be more or less.
Lodging will be top of mind for anyone traveling into Vermont, and unfortunately for many, it might be too late. KarenMarie Peltier, owner of Back Inn Time Bed & Breakfast, received her first call about booking a room for the eclipse almost two years ago.
"When I started getting like the fifth, sixth, seventh phone call, I said, 'Okay, there's something going on, I really need to pay attention to," she said.
After opening her books for reservations, available rooms at Back Inn Time sold out in three days.
"I've had people ask if they can camp out," Peltier said. "I don't think they're familiar with northern Vermont in early April."
Young said that visual safety is a top concern—looking at an eclipse requires eye wear that is rated properly and not all eclipse glasses found online are safe.
"The city, our downtown program with our designated downtown, bought 5,000 branded glasses for our event in Taylor Park," she said. "We are going to hand out for free and a lot of our businesses will have them available. We're trying to make sure that we can get as many into hands as possible."
A listener named Robin wrote in regarding online scams and fake rental listings taking advantage of those looking for places stay during the eclipse. Peltier advised listeners to deal directly with inns and hotels whenever possible and to check out reviews before booking.
"If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, especially around the eclipse because everybody in this area has inflated their prices for that time," Peltier said.
A listener named Barbara from Montreal called in regarding the weather, and Young said that viewers will still see the sky go black in the middle of the day even if the sun can't be seen.
"There's still an experience to be had," she said. "And for us, we're having an event regardless of what the weather is."
If inclement weather occurs, Young said the city of St. Albans will move their event to the city hall auditorium.
"So, there will still be an indoor place for everybody to have some fun," she said.
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