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The Great American Eclipse of 2024 as Seen in Missouri

May 23, 2024 | Logan Breer

Missouri has been in the path of the two most recent total solar eclipses that have traveled across North America. Due to that, some Missourians may not think eclipses are special, after, but that cannot be further from the truth as they are an astonishing, rare phenomenon. The two eclipses that Missourians experienced in 2017 and 2024 are categorized as total solar eclipses. Total solar eclipses are one of three different eclipse categories that also include annual and hybrid (Great American Eclipse). Locals and visitors witnessed this astonishment first-hand on April 8th in Southeast Missouri. Local Main Streets and other communities in the path of totality reported welcoming many eclipse tourists on the day of the eclipse. Let’s take a look at the amazing things that happened on Main Street surrounding the total eclipse.

A special thank you to Main Street America and the Simons Foundation for selecting Historic Downtown Sikeston and Uptown Jackson Revitalization Organization as recipients of their $10,000 Path of Totality initiative grant which allows “[awarded] Main Streets to create meaningful and memorable experiences for community members, centered by the total solar eclipse” (Main Street America).

CHARM – Charleston

In preparation for the total solar eclipse, Charleston Revitalization Movement (CHARM) partnered with the City of Charleston and Charleston Chamber of Commerce to host an eclipse viewing event at the local AD Simpson Park on April 8th.  They additionally partnered with the University of Missouri and 4-H leaders who provided on-site explanations of the different phenomena occurring in real-time such as partial eclipse, shadow bands, Bailey’s beads, diamond ring effect, totality, and the sun’s corona. Tiffiny Shankle, board member of CHARM stated, “It was a great event. We had a food truck and food vendors along with local businesses that gave away glasses, hotdogs, nachos, and water. It was a wonderful day!” Charleston is just the first example showing how the draw of natural phenomena, like a solar eclipse, eclipses the draw of Main Street as Charleston reported that they hosted people from several out-of-town places including Mississippi, Illinois, Wisconsin, New York, Germany, and even had a couple from Paris, France.

Cape Girardeau, MO

Old Town Cape, Inc. – Cape Girardeau

Old Town Cape, Inc. (OTC) enhanced the time surrounding the eclipse, when the individuals would come together for a shared observation, by collaborating with community stakeholders to put on a special event for this special occasion. From noon to 3:00 PM OTC hosted an Eclipse Block Party at their Cape Riverfront Market lot downtown. During the Eclipse Block Party community members and visitors could treat themselves to downtown businesses, nine food vendors, yoga sessions in the Old Town Cape Community Garden with Shakti & Free Yoga Studio, live music from a local band Spacers, children’s activities by Discovery Playhouse, giveaways from Mike FM, and more! OTC had available for purchase limited edition eclipse t-shirts that sold out in eight minutes! The food vendors reported to OTC that they sold out of food before 3 PM! Old Town Cape has many successful events that attract people to participate, but the Eclipse Block Party outranked them all. Savannah Edwards, Events & Volunteer Coordinator for OTC, shared feedback they received from several of their downtown businesses, “over the Eclipse weekend and the day of our sales and foot traffic were record high!”  For a second time now, the strength and impact of utilizing a natural phenomenon is illustrated as this was the most highly attended event in OTC’s history with thousands of people attending.

Sikeston, MO

Historic Downtown Sikeston – Sikeston

Historic Downtown Sikeston, one of the recipients of the Path of Totality initiative grant, hosted several days of activities around the eclipse where they made available telescopes for solar viewing and witnessing the stages of the eclipse—by utilizing some of the grant funds. Saturday, April 6th started with an educational experience that informed people about the effects of the eclipse on nocturnal animals through their partnership with the Sikeston Public Library. Saturday afternoon brought the community together for a shared meal with a crawfish boil through their partnership with the Sikeston Jaycees. On Sunday, Historic Downtown Sikeston partnered with a local church to host an evening movie in Legion Park showing the movie “ET” with popcorn. On Monday, hundreds of people came downtown to view the eclipse. Through Historic Downtown Sikeston’s partnership with a couple of local downtown schools and their tourism team, kids and adults could use eclipse activity books. Jason Davis, Executive Director of Historic Downtown Sikeston, said, “It was an incredible day with an incredible response from people not only from Sikeston but from all around the country.”

West Plains, MO

West Plains Downtown – West Plains

West Plains Downtown worked with their local tourism office, Explore West Plains, to host “Party in the Path” which provided an art exhibit, reception, comedy night, concerts, 5K, carnivals, festivals, and more. The culmination of the “Party in the Path” of course was the eclipse itself on Monday, April 8th but that did not stop those who chose to visit West Plains from having fun for a four-day festival. Watch the video they shared highlighting everything that happened during their “Party in the Path.”

For an extensive dive into the activities  hosted throughout the “Party in the Path” read the article written by Chris Herbolsheimer. https://www.westplainsdailyquill.net/stories/party-in-the-path-a-four-day-festival-of-celestial-celebration-in-west-plains,165970

If you missed the previous two eclipses, the next total solar eclipse that will go through our neighbors Oklahoma and Arkansas in 2045!

1 thought on “May 23, 2024 – The Great American Eclipse of 2024 as Seen in Missouri”

  1. Chris Johnston

    What a fun time in your community! Your video documenting all the activities is excellent – thanks for sharing! West Plains rocks!

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