The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

How Burlington is preparing for the largest influx of visitors seen in one day

Chelsea Thatcher
Photo Illustration: Up to 75,000 visitors are expected in Burlington at the time of the eclipse.

With Burlington in the line of totality, this eclipse is a once-in-a-lifetime event for residents and the expected tens of thousands of visitors. With the event coming up quickly on Monday, April 8, Burlington and UVM have both been planning to make this day the most successful it can possibly be. 

Zach Williamson is the Festival and Event Director with Burlington City Arts. The organization has been planning and preparing the city for the eclipse and created a committee called Obscura-BTV. The process has been a multi-department affair, including the Department of Public Works, Parks and Rec, City Council and the local government, Williamson said.

The planning process began with creating a budget for Obscura. They raised money from sponsorships, city funding, merchandise and parking sales. 

Obscura-BTV created “official viewing sites” which include Waterfront Park, Battery Park, Perkins Pier, City Hall Park, Roosevelt Park, Leddy Park and Oakledge Park. Viewing sites ensure that everyone will be able to clearly see the eclipse, and each site will have viewing glasses provided according to Obscura-BTV’s website

“We try to make it a nice environment for everyone to watch this and make it a pleasant experience,” Williamson said.

The weekend is also full of events. The Obscura-BTV website has a calendar for anybody putting on an event to promote it. 

“It’s not just about what the city is producing. It’s also about what’s happening across the region,” Williamson said. 

There is no way to discern exactly how many visitors the city should expect, however, estimates are up to 75,000 people according to NBC5

“It’s a good day to walk or bike or to stay put because there will be a lot of people visiting the city. That’s probably the biggest pressure on the system,” Williamson said. 

To accommodate this, Obscura-BTV has purposefully planned events before and after the eclipse so as to stagger the departure and arrival of visitors, Williamson said. 

“We feel confident, public safety-wise and traffic-wise, we can definitely accommodate up to 50,000 people. We’re hoping for a manageable turnout,” Williamson said.

There are various street closures to accommodate for the extra parking required.

Williamson expects the eclipse weekend to be like if leaf-peeping season occurred on one day.

“It’’s a unique thing because it’s happening in the cosmos, we aren’t creating it, and everyone wants to be here to see it. It is a special event that is not not going to be recreated in our lifetime,” Williamson said.

In addition to Obsurva-BTV, UVM has its own planning committee and events. Luke Donforth is a member of the Eclipse Planning Committee at the University of Vermont. He is also a lecturer in the Physics department, as well as a viewing station volunteer and eclipse enthusiast.  

“[I am] most excited about the eclipse itself and the keynote with Dr. Lisa Kaltenegger. The public talks by Dr. John Perry and the Space Club viewings leading up to the big event have been great,” said Donforth.

The full list of the UVM-affiliated events can be found on the UVM website

It can’t be said for certain how the eclipse will impact Burlington in the future, but this event is expected to draw visitors from all around for this once-in-a-lifetime eclipse weekend. 

“It is the hope of everyone involved in the planning of this event that visitors will take a liking to our city, support local businesses and come back. We wanted to entice people to come back and see what the waterfront is like in the summer when it’s nicer,” Williamson said. “Showing people from near and far that Burlington is a great place to be is a really big goal of ours.”

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