Eclipse events emerging

ROSSFORD — As a matter of public safety, the city is planning public events for the total solar eclipse that will be happening on April 8, 2024.

The county population is expected to double that day — but the population of Rossford is expected to quadruple.

Council president Caroline Zuchowski Eckel talked about the planning earlier this month, as part of her public safety committee meeting report from July 20.

Because of the city’s location at the junction of the Ohio Turnpike 80/90 and Interstate 75, Wood County Emergency Management is recommending that all of Wood County be prepared, but Rossford more so than other locations.

The last total eclipse in the area was 1806.

“They are recommending that extra vehicles be on patrol, everyone fill up their tanks prior, as gas stations may experience an unprecedented demand that day. They would also recommend that we plan events to direct crowds, to set observation areas with food trucks and activities, so that (observers) stay longer than the 10 minutes of the eclipse,” Zuchowski-Eckel said.

In a follow-up, Police Chief Todd Kitzler said that the events can be laid out in such a way as to “filter people into areas where we want them.”

The idea is to spread out the rate of traffic coming to and leaving from the area. The actual eclipse will only be 4 minutes and 27 seconds, but emergency management is estimating a minimum of 10 minutes for observers getting in and out of their vehicles. Giving crowds the opportunity to delay their return travel would help funnel traffic away at that peak travel time.

Zuchowski-Eckel said that the city should be planning for “all hands on deck that day.”

She added that there has been no specific events talked about in the committee, but she has some ideas, which were spurred by Emergency Management.

“If people will be traveling from all over to be here to see it, I want to be good hosts,” Zuchowski-Eckel said in a follow-up interview. “We need to have something for them to do while waiting for it to happen. I would like to see something along the lines of the balloon festival that we had before COVID. Something big. Something for everyone.”

Whatever the events, she would like to make sure there are food trucks, vendors, entertainment and activities to keep people engaged.

“Maybe start at noon and end at 7 or 8 p.m.?” Zuchowski-Eckel said, of her idea for a whole day of events.

The eclipse is expected to cross over Ohio starting in the early afternoon that day, with the center line entering the state around Dayton at approximately 1:52 p.m. and finishing exiting through Cleveland.

Kitzler reiterated that the public should be ready for shortages, referring to both fuel and basic grocery items.