Volunteers needed for 2024 eclipse events

Corey Murphy never thought he’d be talking about port-a-potties to the Henry County Council.

The president and CEO of the New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) is planning for the April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse and hopes everyone else is, too.

Murphy spoke the county council Thursday in his role with Destination Henry County.

“Every time I’m before you, you’re going to hear about the eclipse because of the amount of people that are going to come to our county, because we’re in the path of totality,” Murphy told the council. “We’ve looked at other communities in the last total eclipse and the impact was tremendous.”

Murphy’s office is in the early stages of having an open planning meeting with some guest speakers. They hope to get people thinking about planning for the April 8, 2024 event.

For example, if someone is going to host an outdoor eclipse-viewing party that day, where are all those people going to go to the restroom?

Answer: Port-a-potties.

“The last time this happened in 2017, there weren’t any port-a-potties in that region,” Murphy said. “So they had to go out of state to get the port-a-potties.”

However, planning is not all about rented restrooms.

Murphy hopes Henry County’s business owners are looking ahead at the next six months and planning for that weekend.

“If you’re typically closed on Monday, maybe you don’t want to be closed. Maybe you want to order extra food. Maybe you want to order some extra toilet paper,” he said.

Carrie Barrett of New Castle Main Street has already ordered 100 port-a-potties for that weekend.

With that box checked, she is looking at the rest of the weekend for downtown New Castle.

“We think we are going to have 20,000 people in our community,” she said. “There’s really no way to predict … We are expecting a big turnout. We are expecting people from everywhere to come to our community.”

In Henry County, people will see three minutes and 59 seconds of the moon completely blocking out the sun.

“The longer time you have in totality, the more people will come,” Barrett said.

Barrett heard from a representative of Sweetwater, Tennessee, a community of 6,000 people that was in the path of totality in 2017. They had 24,000 people in their downtown for that eclipse.

Barrett said Hancock County is expecting 50,000 to 100,000 visitors for the eclipse and “they’re not even in the path of totality.”

Even though they aren’t sure of how many visitors will show up, New Castle Main Street knows it is going to take an army of volunteers to make this a great moment for the city.

“We are looking for people who have ideas, who want to help,” Barrett said.

For example, a volunteer could count every available parking spot in downtown New Castle and help figure out a plan for parking all those eclipse tourists.

At the same time, Barrett is keeping in mind the people who live and work downtown already.

She also wants to have something that will be fun and create a festival-like atmosphere to engage visitors.

Then there is the idea of a “re-clipse” after all those people visit in April.

“How can we engage them to come back to Henry County and New Castle and see all the amazing things we have to offer?” Barrett wondered.

Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Barrett at carrie@newcastledowntown.com.

Now through December 2023, people and organizations planning an eclipse-related event can submit their information by using a form available on the HCDD Eclipse Mania website, https://www.hoopsinhenry.com/ eclipse.

– Story by Travis Weik (Editor@TheCourierTimes.comof The Courier-Times. Read more local stories at TheCourierTimes.com.