Gallatin prepares for massive eclipse viewing celebration - WSMV News 4

Gallatin prepares for massive eclipse viewing celebration

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GALLATIN, TN (WSMV) -

City officials in Gallatin held two eclipse training sessions on Monday, trying to prepare volunteers for the crowds.

Event planners with the visitors bureau are counting down the last three weeks to the big solar event.

Gallatin is slated to have one of the longest eclipse viewing times in the state.

Sophia Dong, 10, and her family picked up their protective glasses from the Sumner County visitors center Monday afternoon.

"A lot of people don't see it, so I'm excited to see it," Sophia told News 4.

Sophia's father said he was 10 years old in China when he last saw an eclipse. He is excited to see his daughters get a similar experience.

"It will be family bonding time for us," Sophia said.

Like Sophia, the entire city of Gallatin is abuzz about the once in a lifetime event. Police and other safety officials are meeting several times a week to prepare.

"We believe traffic is going to be our biggest issue that day, and we're trying to plan accordingly for that," said Captain Kate Novitsky with the Gallatin Police Department. "We're going to have extra officers on duty that day. It's going to be all hands on deck as far as answering calls for service and handling traffic.”

The Tennessee Department of Transportation, Homeland Security, the FBI and several local agencies are involved in the planning.

Gallatin is considered to be one of the best places to watch the eclipse in Tennessee. It will have one of the longest full eclipse viewings, lasting 2 minutes and 40 seconds. Lebanon's total eclipse will last 2 minutes, 37 seconds. People in Clarksville can see it for 2 minutes, 19 seconds. In Nashville, the full eclipse will last about 1 minute, 57 seconds.

Barry Young has been planning for the eclipse for two years for the visitors bureau.

"Triple Creek Park here is actually on the center line of totality, just once 2 minutes, 40 seconds of totality, which is the most you're going to get in Tennessee," said Young, the executive director of the Sumner County Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Actually, there's only two places in the United States that are more – just a few hundredths of a second more is Hopkinsville, KY, and I believe up near Carbondale, IL. Other than that, Gallatin is the best place to be, right here in Triple Creek.”

Police say they want drivers to be off the roads and not distracted by the eclipse.

"What we don't want to happen is for people to be driving when totality starts and either stopping in the lane of traffic, or the worst scenario, I'd suspect, would be people continuing to try to drive and look at the sun at the same time," Novitsky said. "By 1:15pm, you're going to be seeing a noticeable change in the atmosphere. It's going to be getting dark by that point. Of course, totality here is around 1:27pm.”

For those in the park, there will be a concert headlined by Gallatin native Kimberly Locke. The day will begin with a yoga class.

City officials are expecting the city's population to double with tourists coming in. All hotels in the area are booked. A group of 300 people from Japan reserved a baseball field at the Triple Creek Park for the viewing.

Protective glasses will be handed out at the park.

"We know we have visitors combing from 17 foreign countries and 39 states," Young said. "We have an Eventbrite set up where visitors are letting us know they're coming. It's a worldwide event. It's going to be big.”

There will also be eclipse viewing events at Volunteer State Community College and Bledsoe Creek State Park.

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