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Niagara Falls
Thursday, April 18, 2024
Ross’s Ramblings: Gouge by the gorge eclipses even Y2K hype
Ross Robinson doesn’t believe Niagara will see many visitors for the April 8 solar eclipse. FIREFLY

I tend to resist media hype and I chuckle at grandiose statements.

Been there. Done that. The next total eclipse in this area will be in 2044, so this is the chance of a lifetime for some of us. I hate to be a wet blanket, but enough of the hype.

Y2K preparedness was all the buzz in late 1999. IT consultants made piles of money playing on the mass fear of computer and traffic light and even plumbing shutdowns. Police and firefighters all had to work overtime, albeit at premium pay rates.

Hotels, cruise ships and fancy restaurants doubled, tripled and even shamelessly quadrupled prices for New Year’s Eve 2000. There was an irrational fear that only at the last minute had the smart people in the computer world realized there might be a huge problem.

At the last minute, people gave their heads a shake and decided to enjoy house parties instead of breaking the bank. Cancellations poured in and the world’s tourism operators took a severe financial beating.

We held our prices at the award winning “Oh Canada Eh?” dinner show and asked guests to bring two days worth of non-perishable food. And toothpaste and toothbrushes.

When the Y2K scare came and went without a problem, we donated lots and lots of food to Project Share. We packed our showroom, and what a win-win situation. The media loved us.

I admire Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati for this ability to deliver a timely and brief quote, always with a straight face. We are longtime friends, since my days working in his city.

But I must insert some realism into the discussion about the April 8 total eclipse, and remember the Y2K and Nik Wallenda events. Not that long ago.

Wallenda’s tightrope crossing over the Niagara gorge on June 15, 2012, was a big deal, until ABC and the Niagara Parks Commission dictated that he had to be tethered to his 1,800-foot highwire. Talk about raining on a parade.

He walked confidently over the mist-fogged brink of the Horseshoe Falls, but the edge was off because we knew he couldn’t fall into the gorge.

His dad’s words rang hollow that evening. “Life is on the wire. Everything else is just waiting.” It was great television, as the mist swirled in the background.

Fallsview hotels took a financial beating, as they had to lower their inflated room rates. The expected mass crowds dwindled, as potential visitors took a deep breath. We were maybe 50,000 thrill seekers watching.

Now, Diodati is predicting over a million visitors for the upcoming total solar eclipse.

We lucky Niagarans are apparently on the “path of totality” and will get 99 per cent perfect views of what is being hyped.

So, all together now, let’s gouge by the gorge. Hotel rooms that normally sell for under $200 are being quoted online for well over $1,000 on April 8. Say it ain’t so, but for a three- or four-minute view of the total eclipse, hotel owners think people will pay big bucks.

And it better not be a cloudy or overcast day.

Not to be a pessimist, but I’ll be shocked if over 90,000 solar eclipse lovers make their way to Niagara for the big day on April 8.

I wonder if Eclipse Hair on Mary Street was still around would its talented stylists be offering discount clips, in the spirit of eclipse totality?

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