It Took Years to Prepare for a Four Minute and 26-Second Eclipse

Preparing for a once-in-a-lifetime event looks different for everyone. For most Texans, getting
ready for the April 8 eclipse was as simple as finding a sturdy pair of eclipse sunglasses and
clicking “add to cart.” For Texas government officials, it took years.

The last solar eclipse was in 2017, and some cities have been making preparations since then.
Others launched eclipse task forces a few years in advance, discussing operational strategies
and hosting town halls as the day drew near.

An estimated 12.8 million Texans live in the path of totality, and Central Texas alone welcomed
roughly 1 million eclipse viewers. For major cities like Austin, an extra couple thousand visitors
seem like a regular Monday. But for small towns, it was a much more significant undertaking.
Officials had to plan for every basic need, from restrooms and trashcans to parking lots, as they
mapped out the designated public viewing areas. The influx of visitors to the Texas Hill Country
meant more cars on every road from the major highway to Main Street. Police officers, highway
patrolmen and other first responders worked together to keep traffic moving and roadways safe.
Cities encouraged school closures, telling residents to stock up on gas and groceries – and to
work from home where possible. Between expert planning and everyone who heeded best
practices, the 2024 solar eclipse will go down in the tourism books as a great success.

There are a few main takeaways every organization can learn from the success of our state and
local governments:

First, having conversations as early as possible will always yield better outcomes.

Second, inviting a diverse set of experts to the meetings will broaden the team’s

Third, communicating your plan matters. After all, a plan won’t make much of a
difference if no one knows about it.

Finally, it never hurts to spread a little kindness along the way.

As Patricia Moore with the Bandera County Convention & Visitors Bureau told MYSA, “Local
residents and visitors alike need to remember the 4 P’s: Prepare; Protect your eyes; Practice
your smile, handshake, and hugs; and last but not least Practice Patience.”

Translation: Keep it safe. Keep it friendly.

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