What. A. Show.
We’re talking, of course, about the eclipse that happened this past Monday. But, it also goes for the City of Carbondale and the rest of Southern Illinois.
Sure, the sun and the moon had the leading roles in this movie, but local officials deserve a Best Supporting Role award for their efforts.
Bravo, Carbondale. Bravo, Southern Illinois.
Officials estimated that 50,000 people came to Carbondale for the eclipse, and that 200,000 people traveled to the 16-county region we call home.
That’s a lot of people — and it took a lot of planning and hard work to pull it off. In our eyes, it was done right and well worth it.
“We probably over-prepared a bit, and normally I’m not an advocate for over-planning, but in this case I think we had to, just because we didn’t know how many people were coming to Carbondale,” said Carbondale City Manager Gary Williams at a Tuesday news conference. “But looking back, I wouldn’t have done it any differently.”
This could be a fantastic jumping-off point for Carbondale and the rest of Southern Illinois. It’s the opportunity the region needed to put it back on the map, so to speak.
Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry said Tuesday that he “wish(es) we had another one of these next year.” Well, why not?
Of course, we’re not going to have another eclipse next year — we have to wait until 2024 for that. But, we can have another celebration or major event here next year. And the year after that. And the year after that.
It was just proven that it can be pulled off. Why not make an annual event of some sorts?
Why not do this for every SIUC move-in weekend? Or even another time? Maybe a big alumni event? It doesn’t matter, but we do know it’d be a great thing for the region. And we know we can do it.
There were a lot of local folks who stayed away from the festivities around the region. For whatever reason, some locals were scared off by what was going on.
“I feel like there were a lot of our local people who might have normally come out to the events but were really scared away by all of the media hype about how awful traffic would be … and so a lot of our local people opted to stay home, and we missed out on them and they missed out on everything that we had planned for this weekend,” said Carbondale Tourism Executive Director Cinnamon Wheeles-Smith is a story this week.
Well, we believe it was their loss, because everything was perfect.
Sure, it took a while for our visitors to come — most showed up Sunday and Monday — but that’s OK. And really, when you think about, nobody really knew what to expect.
Again, it was perfect. In Carbondale, there were no significant incidents. In fact, Carbondale Police said it only issued three minor citations. That’s incredible considering the amount of people who were in town.
Going into the weekend, it seemed everyone was concerned about traffic congestion. Again, this proved to be minor as well — unless, of course, you’re talking about leaving town after the eclipse. The traffic was heavy — but that was to be expected.
Those involved with the eclipse — from Henry, Williams, Bob Baer, Carbondale Public Information Officer Amy Fox, Carbondale Police Chief Jeff Grubbs and everyone in between — should be proud of what they accomplished. And pardon us for leaving out any names, there’s not enough space here for everybody. But we saw you, and we’re impressed.
We’re proud of what Carbondale, Makanda, Goreville, Alto Pass — all of Southern Illinois — accomplished. It was a sight to behold — even for the unlucky ones who had their views of the eclipse boxed out by that darned cloud.
Kudos Carbondale. Kudos Southern Illinois. We can’t wait for what’s in store for the near future — and 2024.