The Sun is Going Away! How Municipalities are Preparing for the 2024 Solar Eclipse


  • Kyle Funk
March 27, 2024 - (5 min read)

This year, on April 8, a total solar eclipse will directly pass over several states from Texas to Maine, impacting an estimated 31.6 million residents. But an additional 150 million people live within 200 miles of the totality (the direct shadow on the Earth), and 99 percent of the US population, including Alaska and Hawaii will still experience a partial eclipse. There have only been 21 total eclipses that have passed over the lower 48 states in US history. The last solar eclipse to pass over the US occurred in 2017 and was a smaller shadow and directly passed over 12 million residents in a less densely populated pathway. However, the 2017 solar eclipse still had a large economic impact, with South Carolina seeing an additional 1.6 million travelers who spent an additional $269 million. Idaho saw a 99 percent increase in hotel/rental cost and occupancy rates during the 2017 eclipse, jumping from $123.97 in 2016 to $841.00 in August 2017.

With the next solar eclipse not passing over the US until 2044, municipalities across the country are taking full advantage of this year’s solar eclipse by creating a range of events and programs in their communities. According to Forbes, the eclipse this year is expected to create an extra $1 billion in economic development and bring in close to 4 million visitors to states in totality (the busiest states are predicted to be Texas, Indiana, and Ohio). For many areas, it will be the largest single tourist event to ever happen or, as Forbes put it, “like having 50 Super Bowls happening at the same time across the country.”

How One City is Preparing for the Eclipse

With the last solar eclipse passing over Ohio in 1806 and the next one not passing over Ohio until 2444, Medina, OH (population approximately 26,023) is going all out for the eclipse with the slogan, “Sun or no sun, Medina is gonna have fun!” In communication with the City of Medina, they shared that the Ohio Emergency Management Agency is predicting the county to grow by 128,000 people for the event. In anticipation of the eclipse, all schools, courts, and county buildings plan to close for the day allowing for employees to not come into the office as to limit highway traffic. As an Ambassador for the Solar Eclipse by The Great Lakes Science Center, the City of Medina received 1,000 pairs of solar viewing glasses, a telescope with a solar filter, and other supplies for a watch party at the local Recreation Center.

City of Medina Solar Eclipse Poster

The City of Medina also shared how they have been leading the all-weekend event organization efforts with several partners and businesses, including the Greater Medina Chamber of Commerce, the Medina County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Main Street Medina, and local businesses that are helping to sponsor the events. Mayor Dennis Hanwell added, “The City of Medina was selected by the Great Lakes Science Center as a 2024 Eclipse Ambassador. As Mayor of Medina, we are honored to plan weekend long events and activities working collaboratively with our local partners. There is something truly special about Medina, and we hope people will visit us to celebrate the once-in-a-lifetime eclipse.” 

The city’s administrative assistant, Sarah Tome, even designed a once-in-a-lifetime commemorative poster that is on sale in several local shops and at City Hall, with the proceeds going to cover the cost of the events. All and all, this Medina resident is planning to have fun in the sun or no sun all weekend with family and friends.

Three Trends Emerging in How Municipalities Are Preparing for the Eclipse

Establishing a communication plan to inform residents, and especially tourists visiting the area, about what events are occurring, where parking is/isn’t available, and what roads may be closed for any events. Other safety messaging includes informing residents and visitors to purchase solar eclipse glasses.

The City of Buffalo, NY, has created a texting/messaging system for residents to stay best informed about information leading up to the eclipse.

Developing partnerships to bring municipalities, chambers of commerce, libraries and local businesses together to coordinate events over the weekend and day of the eclipse. Local elected officials are key voices to bring together the different partners and support their efforts and events.

The City of Waco, TX, partnered with several entities, like local universities, science institutions, and local businesses, to create a large all-day event with supporting weekend events.

Connecting local businesses to events to drive economic development, with the solar eclipse happening on a Monday, many municipalities are considering how to use the whole weekend and day to promote economic activity for their community. However, with the eclipse likely to bring in a large number of visitors, it is important to communicate to businesses how they can prepare for the event, such as avoiding deliveries the day of, stocking up on supplies before the weekend, using the opportunity for a promotional event and communicating with workers.

The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce (Bloomington, IN) and many other local community groups have created an entire webpage to help and inform businesses about how they can prepare for the eclipse. Buffalo, NY, has created a special events application for the eclipse on their webpage and a way to link that event to Visit Buffalo Niagara.

Municipal leaders can check out the full path of the 2024 Solar Eclipse here.

About the Author

Kyle Funk

About the Author

Kyle Funk is the Senior Program Specialist on Infrastructure, Transportation and Solutions at the National League of Cities.