Busi­nesses, cities cash­ing in on to­tal so­lar eclipse

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - BUSINESS - BY ADRIAN SAINZ

Mil­lions of eyes will be fixed on the sky when a to­tal so­lar eclipse crosses the U.S. in Au­gust, and it’s likely many of them will be safely be­hind the spe­cial glasses churned out by a Ten­nessee com­pany.

Amer­i­can Pa­per Op­tics ramped up pro­duc­tion for this year’s eclipse and ex­pects to make 50 mil­lion pa­per and plas­tic eclipse glasses.

John Jerit, the com­pany’s CEO and pres­i­dent, said they be­gan pre­par­ing about two years ago. Dur­ing his al­most 27 years mak­ing safety glasses, he’s only seen one to­tal so­lar eclipse, in France in 1999, but will be go­ing to Nashville for this one.

“It’s a life ex­pe­ri­ence,” Jerit said dur­ing an in­ter­view at his com­pany’s of­fice in the Mem­phis sub­urb of Bartlett. “When that two min­utes is over, or how­ever long you’ve got, the ques­tion that you re­ally want to hear is, ‘When is the next one?”’

His com­pany is one of many busi­nesses - ho­tels, camp­grounds and stores - tak­ing ad­van­tage of the to­tal so­lar eclipse - when the moon passes be­tween Earth and the sun.

The moon’s shadow will fall in a di­ag­o­nal ribbon across the U.S., from Ore­gon to South Carolina. The rest of the U.S. will ex­pe­ri­ence a par­tial eclipse, along with Canada, Cen­tral Amer­ica and a bit of South Amer­ica.

Cities and towns along the path of to­tal­ity - where there will be about 2 1/2 min­utes of dark­ness - are gear­ing up for the crowds. St. Joseph, Mis­souri, pop­u­la­tion 76,000, is in a prime lo­ca­tion and of­fi­cials are brac­ing for tens of thou­sands of eclipse watch­ers to de­scend on the city, said Beth Con­way, spokes­woman for the St. Joseph Con­ven­tion & Vis­i­tors Bu­reau.

The city’s restau­rants, gas sta­tions and stores are pre­par­ing for the on­slaught - the city’s largest arts and mu­sic fes­ti­val with the nick­name “To­tal Eclipse of the Arts” is sched­uled on the week­end lead­ing up to the eclipse on Mon­day, Aug. 21.

“This is es­sen­tially our Su­per Bowl,” Con­way said. “If we see any­where near the amount of peo­ple that they’re telling us, it will prob­a­bly be the big­gest event in our his­tory.”

The city has got­ten into the act as well, sell­ing eclipse glasses, posters and blue and yel­low T-shirts dec­o­rated with a draw­ing of the city’s sky­line and an iconic rail­road bridge, and with the slo­gan “Right in the Mid­dle of it All.”

Con­way said a bene­fac­tor do­nated 100,000 safety glasses de­signed for the city and pro­ceeds are go­ing to lo­cal museums and char­i­ties.

Sales have been “amaz­ing, phe­nom­e­nal,” she said. “It’s just blown our minds.”

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