Newport gears up for 2024 solar eclipse with community event, economic optimism

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NEWPORT — As the total solar eclipse on April 8 approaches, the city of Newport is preparing to host a community viewing event at Gardner Park, which promises to be a highlight of the astronomical spectacle. The event, running from 2:00 p.m. to 4:45 p.m., will feature guest speaker William Vinton, an educator from NKAF, and live music by Kyle Chadburn, creating a festive atmosphere for residents and visitors alike.

The first 500 attendees at the Gardner Park event will receive free eclipse glasses, ensuring safe viewing of the partial phases of the eclipse. Safety is a top priority, and organizers emphasize that the only safe way to look directly at the partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewers.

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Newport, positioned within the eclipse’s path of totality, is expected to experience a total solar eclipse lasting approximately 3 minutes and 35 seconds. This rare celestial event is anticipated to draw a significant number of visitors to the area, potentially bringing a much-needed economic boost to the region.

Vermont Treasurer Mike Pieciak estimates that the economic impact of the eclipse for the state could range between $12.9 million and $51.8 million, depending on the number of visitors and weather conditions on the day of the event.

“This will be a boon to our state’s coffers, with millions of dollars in tax revenues likely to be collected,” said Pieciak. “The economic impact of the total solar eclipse could be significant for Vermont, and the benefits will be even greater considering April is generally a slow period for Vermont’s tourism industry.”

The Great American Eclipse predicts that Vermont could see between 52,000 and 208,000 visitors, with each visitor estimated to spend an average of $249.28 while in the state. These figures are based on economic analyses from states that experienced the 2017 total solar eclipse.

As Newport and the surrounding areas prepare for the influx of visitors, local officials and businesses are working to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all. Visitors are encouraged to plan their lodging and travel well in advance, as accommodations are expected to be limited. When traveling, it is recommended to plan routes, check for updates, and expect extended delays.

Organizers also remind visitors to be considerate of others, follow guidelines, and respect wildlife and natural areas during their stay. With proper planning and preparation, the 2024 total solar eclipse promises to be an unforgettable event for Newport and the entire state of Vermont.

The eclipse will begin as a partial solar eclipse at 2:14 p.m. and reach totality at 3:26 p.m. The Gardner Park event in Newport will provide a central location for the community to gather and witness this awe-inspiring celestial phenomenon together, while also showcasing local talent and providing a platform for educational engagement.

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