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Celestial event to draw tourists to the Valley

The Mahoning Valley is set to play an important role in welcoming tourists from across the country to come and enjoy the April 8 total solar eclipse.

According to a news release from the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, with a 124-mile-wide path of totality, Ohio is expecting an influx of tourists as people travel to witness the eclipse.

A solar eclipse is a celestial event that occurs when the moon casts its shadow across the earth as it travels between the earth and the sun.

The last appearance of a total solar eclipse in Ohio was in 1806.

The centerline of the April 8 eclipse stretches from southwest Ohio and up through Greater Cleveland, then across Lake Erie. Trumbull and Mahoning counties sit near the eclipse’s southern line.

Trumbull County Tourism Bureau Executive Director Beth Carmichael said the Valley’s placement along the southern line of the eclipse will play a critical role in local tourism.

“The centerline is where a lot of people want to be and a lot of places are sold out along that centerline,” she said. “We’re going to see last-minute bookings … In Trumbull County, we’re within the path of totality. Even somewhere as close as Youngstown is not.”

Carmichael said as the eclipse draws nearer and people within a two-hour drive pay attention to weather forecasts, she expects Trumbull County to see an influx in last-minute bookings.

“Right now our hotels are booking their packages, but we’re not sold out,” Carmichael said. “They’re actively receiving those reservations.”

Carmichael could not accurately estimate how many tourists will come to Trumbull County. She said that number is going to be weather-dependent.

Carmichael said visitors and residents can take advantage of several locally hosted events.

The Warren-Trumbull County Public Library is hosting a watch party at Warren G. Harding High School’s Mollenkopf Stadium beginning at 1:30 p.m. The event will include activities for all ages leading up to the total eclipse. Admission is free.

“They’re going to have activity tables,” Carmichael said. “They’re going to have a talk on what the last eclipse to hit Ohio was (like), which was in 1806, from the historical society. They’ll be playing some music, it’s going to be fun there.”

Another eclipse event in Warren will take place at Skyway Twin Drive-In, which Carmichael said plans to have its laser tag open.

In Trumbull, the eclipse will be viewable for the longest duration in the county’s northern townships.

“One of the first communities to create eclipse events was actually Kinsman,” Carmichael said. “The day of, they have an eclipse viewing event.”

The event, hosted by the Kinsman Library, will have live music by Take II Band and eclipse-themed beverages available for purchase from Travelers Coffee Company from 2 to 4 p.m.

The city of Cortland is hosting a “Celestian Celebration” on West Main Street that will feature food trucks, pop-up shops, music and other events from noon to 4 p.m.

In Niles, the Eastwood Mall is hosting a watch party in the parking lot of Mudslingers Coffee near Hobby Lobby. The Niles event will feature a DJ, “tons of family fun,” and coffee giveaways from 2 to 4 p.m., promoters said.

In Lordstown, Foxconn EV Systems and the YSU Physics and Astronomy Department will host a viewing event in the Foxconn parking lot starting at 1 p.m. Those who wish to attend must enter at the front entrance off Hallock Young Road SW. YSU will have telescopes at the event.

“There’s just this really wide variety of viewing locations,” Carmichael said. “It’s just a lot of different places throughout Trumbull County that are interested in commemorating this one-in-a-lifetime event.”

Carmichael said last summer and through the fall, Trumbull Tourism began purchasing eclipse glasses to sell to residents. She said the bureau bought 5,000 pairs of glasses and sold all of them within three weeks.

“That indicates to us that people are really interested and excited to see this event,” Carmichael said.

The bureau has been preparing for the potential of increased traffic as well. Carmichael said traffic will be impacted not only by tourists staying in Trumbull County to witness the eclipse but also by those who will be driving through, trying to get closer to the centerline.

In terms of traffic safety, Ohio Emergency Management Agency recommends pre-planning routes, carrying paper maps in case of GPS failures and keeping a full tank of gas, among other precautions.

Mahoning County Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Linda Macala said she is not aware of many events on the day of the eclipse.

Much of Mahoning County sits outside of the southern limit of the total eclipse’s path.

“The event at Halliday’s Winery is probably the closest area to partial totality in Mahoning County,” Macala said. “From all of the maps we’ve seen the partial path is going to clip the northwest corner of Mahoning County — the Lake Milton area.”

The winery is hosting an event from noon to 6 p.m. and offering commemorative packages for $30 per person, which includes eclipse glasses, a shirt and a color changing cup. There also will be a DJ, and food and drink specials.

Ron Birchak, who owns the winery and nearby Olde Dutch Mill Golf Course, said at 2 p.m, the course will be doing a “solar scramble.”

“It’s a four-person golf scramble; it’s going to include golf, dinner, two drink tickets, and they’ll also get protective eclipse glasses and the cup and T-shirt are included in that,” he said. “There’s also going to be a lunar long drive contest. We have glow-in-the-dark balls for during the eclipse. It should be a really kind of neat golf scramble as well.”

Jessica Lerch, manager of Halliday’s Winery, said the winery staff is excited, being one of only a few Mahoning County businesses in the path of totality.

She said three months ago, officials with Lake Milton State Park mentioned that the winery would be a great “party spot” for the eclipse because of its view of the lake.

“We’re really excited,” she said. “We’ve been receiving a ton of phone calls over the past week from people traveling from Philadelphia, (Washington) D.C.; there’s actually someone flying in from Colorado, too, who is flying in to watch it with his family. We’re definitely excited, people really seem to be excited about it.”

Have an interesting story? Contact Mason Cole by email at mcole@tribtoday.com. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @masoncoletrib

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