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Tuesday, May 28, 2024
Ross’s Ramblings: Self-fulfilling eclipse prophecy just might come true
Ross Robinson doesn't think Niagara will see a million visitors for Monday's eclipse. Firefly

Here on the Path of Totality, eclipse hype continues unabated.

Indeed, Niagara Region chair Jim Bradley has proactively declared a state of emergency ahead of the solar eclipse on April 8.

I know, I know, if something terrible happens, our elected leaders would be damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

I was working at the Munich Olympic village in 1972 when members of Black September, a Palestinian terrorist organization, murdered innocent Israeli athletes, within 200 metres of our food service workplace.

And I was way too close to the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, standing next to a big black armoured vehicle marked Massachusetts Critical Response Team.

Moments before the pressure cooker bomb exploded, I had remarked to a canine cop, “Seems like you’re overdoing it a bit.”

He responded, “You never know.”

Prescient, eh? That domestic terrorist attack undermined more of the innocence in our lives.

Again, nothing can be sacred or preventable if evil people want to make their sick and horrible statement.

But where do we draw the line?

If we talk about the inherent problems of large gatherings, will we have to cancel Niagara-on-the-Lake’s fabulously patriotic cake parade on Canada Day?

Some basement computer lone wolf might decide to ruin our innocent fun and jump into the Willow Bakery masterpiece.

Or, for even greater shock value and notoriety, jump out of the cake wearing just a red-and-white-striped Speedo.

Don’t worry, I will be busy leading a free walking tour that day.

Now, don’t touch our Santa Claus Parade, or our newly magnificent Tractor Parade.

Prepare for huge crowds and disasters yes, and I don’t purport to have all the answers.

But can we please let common sense prevail?

A professor of disaster and emergency management at York University commented last week she has never seen a pre-emptive declaration of emergency.

Our policing, ambulance and fire services must be on alert, but how many thousands of hours of overtime will we taxpayers be paying?

Prof. Nirupama Agrawal at York emphasizes that these situations must be approached in good faith.

For example, the city of Niagara Falls must not declare an emergency situation in advance, just to access extra resources from nearby population areas.

Hard working and well-intentioned Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati, a long time pal of mine, can make hyperbolic statements without blushing.

Indeed, his summary of the Nik Wallenda tethered tightrope walk back in 2012 was a big deal — but, not a huge deal.

My buddy Joe Miszk and his daughter Emily from Betty’s Restaurant in Chippawa (very famous for its fish and chips) and I rode our bikes over to Table Rock to catch the excitement.

There were about 30,000 people there, not the announced 150,000 limned by Diodati.

It’s a mathematical calculation, my friends.

So, although the upcoming eclipse event will be “bigger than Woodstock, the Super Bowl and New Year’s Eve combined,” there will not be over a million people in Niagara Falls that afternoon.

People hear this number and get scared off.

I guesstimate 50,000, but remember, I am just an amateur and jaded prognosticator. I have sometimes been very wrong.

Wanting to be part of the action, I plan to drive up to Niagara Helicopters and then ride my bike over to Queen Victoria Park.

My backpack will contain snacks, beverages, a pair of free eclipse glasses and a flashlight with fresh batteries. I’ll be wearing clothing to suit the weather forecast.

Can’t wait. This is a rare and exciting and inexpensive opportunity.

I will report back after my afternoon in the Path of Totality.

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