Hagerstown is planning events for the April 8 solar eclipse. Photo by Bob Hansen

Three days of activities are the pillars of Hagerstown’s plans for the weekend before the April 8 solar eclipse, and residents are still adding to the structure.

More than 50 local people came to a Feb. 21 “final” planning meeting for the eclipse, according to Gary Schuette. As chairman of the Heart of Hagerstown community promotion group, he is co-chair of the town’s eclipse preparations and conducted the meeting with Chris LaMar, town manager.

The town has allocated $40,000 for activities meant to give visitors a good time while in the area.

It’s been forecast that as many as 100,000 visitors may flood into Wayne County to watch the eclipse, because the county is in the path of totality.

The sun will be completely hidden for about four minutes in Hagerstown and the Dalton community just north of it.

Hagerstown has its own eclipse logo. Banners promoting the eclipse are already hung on downtown light posts and themed merchandise is on sale at several local businesses.

Starting nearly six months ago, the town began planning events with the idea that local people can add their own.

“We are doing the main activities and others can fill in with their own things,” Schuette said. “There is still room for others to fill the time. People are still talking about camping and parking (on their properties), and we know that some won’t decide until seeing the weather forecast the week before, but we’d like to know before then what people are doing so we can help promote it.”

A visitor center with a beer garden will be under a tent at Washington and Walnut streets starting the Friday before Monday’s eclipse. Food trucks will be located there and around town. The town also has rented portable restrooms that will be located around town.

The committee is asking local people for three things: volunteer to help, register their activities and be ready. There are buttons on the website, hagerstown.in.gov/hagerstown-eclipse/ and a link on the Hagerstown Eclipse Facebook page where people can sign up to volunteer or register their activities. Schuette is directing people to online sign-up because, “I can’t just keep all these things in my head.”

Preparing, Schuette noted, is up to each individual. Experience in past eclipse events in other parts of the country has shown that people should fill their gas tanks and get their prescriptions filled before the weekend, because gas stations and pharmacies sometimes run out of fuel and medicine. Local people might also want to have a parking spot secured.

Pillar activities are as follows:

  • Friday, April 5: Polka band concert, beer garden and costume party, 8-10 p.m., at the visitor center. The Chardon Polka Band will play. People are encouraged to wear “out of this world” costumes for a chance at a grand prize.
  • Saturday, April 6: Concert by singer-songwriter Jeffrey Steele and musicians including Jeff Anderson, Mike Younger and Jeanne Petersen, 4-8 p.m., at Hagerstown High School, 701 Baker Road; fireworks show, 8:30 p.m. at Hagerstown Airport, 999 S. Washington St.
  • Sunday, April 7: Car show, 2-6 p.m., Hagerstown Elementary School, 299 N. Sycamore St.; lighted parade, 8:15 p.m., downtown.
  • Monday, April 8: Solar eclipse viewing. Many parking lots around town will be open for viewing. Schools will be closed.
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A version of this article appeared in the February 28 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Bob Hansen is a reporter for the Western Wayne News.