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Niagara Falls
Tuesday, May 28, 2024
Ross’s Ramblings: Professional crowd counters say eclipse crowd closer to 50K
Any and all emergencies were covered in Niagara Falls during the solar eclipse last Monday. ROSS ROBINSON

From the Path of Totality to the Sea of Tranquillity, this week I’d like to share reflections on our 2024 solar eclipse.

Enough back patting and finger pointing. Our much anticipated eclipse has come and gone.

Understandably and unavoidably, the eclipse took on a life of its own, and hopefully the lessons learned will come in handy for our next total solar eclipse on Aug. 23, 2044. Let’s be patient.

After months of hyping and hoping, many of us seized the chance and enjoyed the afternoon.

Wanting to get the real story, I rode my bike to the brink of our amazing Horseshoe Falls, and spent  two hours immersed in the eclipse experience.

We were gently dampened by the cool mist near Table Rock.

Was Queen Victoria Park crowded? Definitely not. And not because of the weather and clouds.

For a myriad of reasons, there were not nearly a million visitors — more like 50,000.

We have all read about over hyping, the declaration of a preemptive state of emergency, negative media attention and other mistakes. Hindsight is always accurate.

Maybe the Niagara Region should have declared a “declaration of preparation.”

Whatever. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

NOTL was busier than normal for a few days in early April. Huzzah!

The day after the eclipse, I had a record number of guests on my Free Walking Tour. Some 26 guests from New Jersey, Quebec, Colombia, Pittsburgh and the Greater Toronto Area. Most of them visiting Niagara for several days.

I asked the young lady visiting from New Jersey for her thoughts regarding the big event. She and her new husband had driven up for a three night honeymoon planned around the eclipse.

She eloquently replied, “The four minutes of the eclipse were the second most disappointing four minutes of my honeymoon.”

Following directions is definitely not my strong suit, so I was unable to construct a pin hole camera to protect my eyes.

Conscious of the danger of the sun, and a bit peckish, I bought a Tim Hortons caramel glazed sprinkle donut and gently squeezed it from the edges until the donut hole was really small.

This became my eye protection, and later, my snack. With a medium hot chocolate. What a country we live in.

In conclusion, thousands of Niagarans made our total solar eclipse a memorable event. They seized the moment, joining friends and neighbours for block and backyard eclipse viewing parties.

Or grabbing good viewing spots in our many parks and along the parkway.

When the sun finally, partially and briefly peeped through the clouds for ten or twenty seconds to let us see the eclipse, my damp new friends at Table Rock cheered.

Not enthusiastically.

Sort of like the cheer at a hockey game, when the home team scores a goal late in the third period to make the score 5-2.

Hey, it’s better than 5-1. A triumph of sorts.

Summarizing, was the incredible amount of overtime money paid to first responders, emergency personnel, sewage surge controllers, traffic planners and sign makers worth it?  How many portable toilets were rented “just in case?”

You decide. To quote from Hope Meredith Cameron Coyne’s recent obituary in the Globe and Mail, “A ship is safe in harbour, but that’s not what a ship is for.”

And, “It’s not the way the wind blows, it’s the way you set your sails.”

Life is what we make it.

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