From Coast To Coast, Towns Anticipate Celestial Event Of A Lifetime

The five hotel rooms on Grand Avenue have been booked for months.

"We had a guy fly in from Japan last year and personally book a room," said Gina McPherson, director of the Ravenna Chamber of Commerce and the town's eclipse coordinator.

Two hundred miles east, in the village of Steinauer, Neb. (population 75), preparations also are underway.

The night before the eclipse, residents and tourists will attend a star party in an open field, where a local astronomer will point out planets and constellations. With the town's three streetlights turned off, the Milky Way should be easily visible.

Because there are no restaurants in the village, the Community Club will hold a country breakfast at a local church on Aug. 21, and the Altar Guild will make bagged lunches for people to take to viewing areas. The eclipse will start at 1:03 p.m. local time and last 2 minutes and 37 seconds.

Terry Wagner, the great-granddaughter of one of the town's founders, is charging people $20 to spread out a blanket on a public field just south of town, to help cover the cost of the extra portable toilets. It's going to be a busy day, but Wagner says she can hardly wait.

"I want to feel what it's like when the temperature drops 20 degrees," she said. "I want to feel my hairs stand on end because of the charge in the air. I want to see the aura of the sun."

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