PARIS, Texas – The skies over Paris and a 75 to 100-mile-wide swath stretching from Mexico to Maine and beyond will go completely dark during a total solar eclipse on the afternoon of Monday, April 8, 2024. In Paris, the midday darkness will last for more than four minutes. The eclipse may bring thousands of visitors to witness what some call a granddaddy of eclipses.
Labeled as the Great American Eclipse, this total solar eclipse will be the last to fall over any location in the lower 48 states in the next twenty years. Other areas of the U.S. may be able to witness a partial solar eclipse that day, but only those in the path of totality will see the sun entirely blocked by Earth’s moon.
The City of Paris has planned an informational meeting about the eclipse at 6:30 pm, Tuesday, September 19, at Love Civic Center. The conference will include a live video presentation by Dr. P. Clay Sherrod, a retired astronomical researcher, educator, and consultant. Sherrod will provide information about the science of a total solar eclipse and data from previous eclipses he has witnessed and studied. Historical data from earlier eclipses will focus on what other cities and towns experienced due to heavy tourism activity surrounding a total solar eclipse.
“Your location is ideal for the eclipse onslaught of visitors,” Sherrod said of Paris in an email to the city. According to Sherrod, an eclipse over the U.S. in 2017 was of shorter duration than that of the 2024 eclipse yet drew more than 17 million visitors into the path of totality.
Paris Assistant City Manager Rob Vine shared that the city began planning for the event many months ago. “The city must be ready for the stresses on our systems and services that may result from a huge influx of visitors,” Vine said. “This information is not meant to alarm but to merely inform our citizens that our city could experience an influx of people that could put a significant strain on City services and have an impact on the ability to purchase groceries, dine at a restaurant, buy gas or even drive across town without experiencing major traffic issues for a few days.”
“We anticipate this will be similar to an extended ice or freeze event for our residents, and they should have food, medications, and other necessities on hand well in advance to the potentially thousands of tourists visiting local stores and businesses,” Vine said. “Part of being ready is informing our residents, and Dr. Sherrod has offered to help us with that educational opportunity.” In September, there will also be a new section added to the city website, www.paristexas.gov, with preparation advice for citizens.
Sherrod’s presentation will last 45 minutes, followed by a question and answer session. The content presented will include scientific and preparation information and highlight tourism opportunities for residents, property owners, businesses, and organizations.
“It’s time for our local businesses and organizations to make plans for this huge moment that the universe is handing to us,” Lamar County Chamber of Commerce President Paul Allen said. “Opportunities exist from offering parking, RV, tent camping locations, or other spaces for rent to organizations hosting fundraising events. We expect the tourists to be here for three or four nights, spending money and looking for things to do.”
The Lamar County Chamber of Commerce has met with local hoteliers and others that may plan recreational, educational, and other events during the eclipse weekend. Deadcat Media has set up a website at www.parissolareclipse.com as a clearing house for event and tourism information. Anyone planning an event that will be open to the public is encouraged to contact the chamber or Deadcat Media to have their event added to the website.
The City of Paris encourages business owners to attend the September 19 presentation, especially pharmacies, gas stations, grocery stores, financial institutions, medical care facilities, and others that provide essential services to the Paris area. Those wanting to plan events or fundraisers will also find the presentation informative.