Many communities across Idaho spent months planning and preparing for this summer’s total solar eclipse. Many even formed committees to help plan for the large influx of people.
While the eclipse certainly lived up to the hype, the Associated Press says Monday’s eclipse was the most observed and most photographed eclipse in history. The number of people coming into some of our communities did not.
There was a lot of hype in Garden Valley surrounding the eclipse. Many expecting tens of thousands to come up to the small area as it set in the path of totality. One day later, some organizers are saying with the turn-out they did receive, they would have done things a lot different.
“We thought that we would get at least the Fourth of July crowd, and I don't' know that we, we didn't get it here,” Garden Valley School District Superintendent Greg Alexander said.
A little more than 200 people gathered on the Garden Valley High School football field to watch the total solar eclipse. It’s an experience Alexander says he will never forget.
“It was a great event. The experience itself surreal,” Alexander said.
Although, the amount of people that turned out was a bit underwhelming.
“It was a little bit disappointing. The nice thing is none of the staff started spending the money before they got it,” Alexander said.
The school was planning to rent out more than a thousand parking spaces for the eclipse to help fund some school programs.
“Wolverines on Wheels, which is our mountain bike club, and our gifted and talented, our science department, ropes course for the 8th graders at the end of the year, our booster club did concessions,” Alexander said.
Although, at the end of the day, not even a tenth of those spaces were sold.
“We ended up with about 81, and those 81 cars are helping us break even,” Alexander said.
The Garden Valley School District spent about $2,000 preparing for the event; they even pushed back their start date because of the eclipse hype.
“If we could have been able to look back and go 'oh OK,' we could have still had our school day and then we could have come out here as a whole class. I mean we could have spent a couple hours out here with the students letting them interact with the adult experts that were here,” Alexander said. “For the most part, our kids missed that and so maybe with a little less hype it could have been even more educational."
Garden Valley eclipse coordinator Jason Sawin says Garden Valley saw about 8,000 to 10,000 visitors over the eclipse weekend.
“T-shirts were selling like crazy, the gas station was busy all-the time, the restaurants were busy all the time. So it was busier than normal weekend,” Sawin said.
Which is about what they expected.
“The disaster that it could have been with cars parked on the side of the road, possibly starting a grass fire, trash everywhere, not enough bathrooms, that didn't happen because we did prepare for it,” Sawin said.
Most of those visitors that did come decided to stay for a few days, which Sawin says is good in the long run.
“Tourism is what we need so it was a way to promote our valley,” Sawin said.