Quotes from Regional Officials in Columbia, S.C. on the Total Eclipse

Quotes from Regional Officials Regarding the Total Solar Eclipse in Columbia, S.C.



Remarks from Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C.’s Committee of Regional Tourism Professionals


“The cultural offerings during Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C., are vast and plenty, leaving lasting memories for those who attend. Our hope is that we impact those who are with us and also leave a legacy of art, music, dance, culinary experiences, educational opportunities and more during this once-in-a-lifetime event.”Merritt McNeely, Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. campaign co-chair and marketing director at the South Carolina State Museum


“Because of its unique location on the center line of totality during the first total eclipse in the continental U.S. in 38 years, the greater Columbia, S.C., area is incredibly lucky, geographically speaking. Because of this, we saw the need to come together as a region to offer a long weekend full of activities for people of all ages to celebrate this amazing phenomenon.”Merritt McNeely, Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. campaign co-chair and marketing director at the South Carolina State Museum


“As soon as I realized that this phenomenon could be a huge tourist draw, I sought to harness that economic strength and funnel it into a streamlined campaign to promote everyone together. The more cultural attractions we could get to participate, the better the region would appear as a whole in attracting tourists here. The goal of this campaign has been to promote Columbia, S.C., as the best destination to witness the eclipse through multiple events showcasing how vast our city’s options are for travelers, in turn having a major economic impact on the region.”Merritt McNeely, Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. campaign co-chair and marketing director at the South Carolina State Museum


“The Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. campaign is an amazing example of collaboration and coordination that is representative of the spirit and vitality you will find in Columbia, South Carolina any day of the year. It is exciting to see our attractions, restaurants, hotels, colleges and universities, cultural groups and the business community all pull together for a common goal. While we will not know exactly what the economic impact of the Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. will be until after the events conclude, we at Experience Columbia SC are confident that our economy will see a boost due to the volume of visitors in town for eclipse-related events and the extensive positive media coverage about Columbia, S.C. that has been generated by the campaign.” -Bill Ellen, President & CEO, Experience Columbia SC


“The Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. campaign has provided an incredible opportunity to introduce our destination to visitors and markets that may not have previously considered us for travel. Many of the 120+ special events that are being held during the long weekend of the eclipse are being hosted by attractions and organizations that offer a full range of opportunities for visitors year-round. There is no way a visitor could experience all Columbia, S.C. has to offer just during just one weekend – it will just be a little taste to leave them looking forward to their next visit.” -Kelly Barbrey, VP of Sales & Marketing, Experience Columbia SC


“Columbia, South Carolina is growing as a travel destination each year and welcomed 14.7 million visitors, including 5.5 million overnight visitors, in 2016. As a destination marketing organization for the region (which includes City of Columbia, S.C., Richland County and Lexington County), Experience Columbia SC drives out-of-area visitors in a number of ways, including recruiting meetings, conventions, conferences, participant-based sporting events and tournaments, and encouraging leisure travel. Our marketing mix includes paid-space advertising, media outreach, attending tradeshows and special events, and a dynamic social media and online presence. The Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, SC campaign is not only a catalyst for encouraging visitation to Columbia, but provides a springboard for collaboration among a variety of attractions and businesses who are interested in growing visitation overall. Visitors can begin planning a trip online at ExperienceColumbiaSC.com.” -Kelly Barbrey, VP of Sales & Marketing, Experience Columbia SC


“The Capital City/Lake Murray Country Regional Tourism Office is excited for the anticipated solar eclipse; we are looking forward to greeting visitors from near and far providing them with Southern hospitality during their stay. As a Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. committee member, we’ve been awaiting this weekend for months. We’ve planned and executed our own solar viewing event, Solar 17 @ Lake Murray, taking place at the Lake Murray Dam, and we have promoted heavily the eclipse event all year. For example, beyond our extensive online promotion, we purchased 30 billboards throughout the Southeast displaying the solar eclipse message. In addition, we provided street banners for four communities (downtown Columbia, Chapin, Irmo and Lexington, S.C.) in our four-county region displaying eclipse event info. We are thrilled that hotel occupancies will be high and our restaurants will be filled. However, we are most excited about the extended message. We know that our regional tourism office will benefit for months to come from this special event, as we’ve already been contacted about future articles and a possible documentary. It’s exciting for the ‘Jewel of South Carolina’ to be in the spotlight.”Miriam Atria, President/CEO, Capital City/Lake Murray Country Regional Tourism Office



“Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. will have a tremendous economic impact on the Midlands region. This impact will not be concentrated in just one area. The entire Columbia, S.C. region will enjoy the benefits from visitors coming to view the total eclipse here. The lasting benefit will be from our visitors recognizing the uniqueness of this area and returning for another visit.”   Councilman Howard E. Duvall, City of Columbia, S.C.


“I have a good friend who is an eclipse chaser. Many years back, he convinced me that a total eclipse would draw people from all over the world. He was right! I have enjoyed working with the Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. committee to make sure the Midlands region is ready for the crowds.  It has been exciting to see how our flagship tourist organizations led by Experience Columbia SC, the South Carolina State Museum, Capital City/Lake Murray Country, One Columbia for the Arts & History, the Columbia Fireflies and the City of Columbia, S.C. have worked together to organize this weekend of events.  You cannot put a price on the national and international publicity Columbia and the Midlands have received. I firmly believe we will see benefits from the Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. for years to come.”  – Councilman Howard E. Duvall, City of Columbia, S.C.



Quotes from Greater Columbia, S.C., Area Leaders


“It’s no secret that Columbia, S.C. is a true jewel in our state and region, but the eclipse has given us an opportunity to shine as a city and show off our vibrant culture, entertainment districts, communities and good old Southern hospitality. We are excited to welcome visitors from around the world and show them exactly why Columbia, S.C. is called The Real Southern Hot Spot.” – Steve Benjamin, Mayor of Columbia, S.C.


“Our public safety officials here in Columbia, S.C. have undergone great efforts planning for the eclipse and eclipse weekend, and we commend them in advance for all of the strategic and meticulous preparations they have made. We’re looking forward to a safe, fun day in our city, and we encourage visitors and residents alike to contact local officials with any questions they may have.” – Steve Benjamin, Mayor of Columbia, S.C.

“The City of Columbia, S.C. really has accepted the challenge of hosting the largest crowds in its history. Working with our neighboring communities as well as State of S.C. and federal agencies, the City is committed to making our visitors have a safe and peaceful experience. All hands will be on deck to handle any traffic concerns. Our command center will use the S.C. Department of Transportation camera system to augment our traffic signal controls to quickly respond to any congested roads. Officers will be stationed at strategic points to facilitate a quick response to any situation. Our goal is to take care of problems before they arise, so that our guests enjoy this incredible event.” – Councilman Howard E. Duvall, City of Columbia, S.C.


“The Total Eclipse Weekend, Columbia, S.C. campaign showcases the great variety of activities available to our citizens and guest in the Midlands of South Carolina. The over 120 events planned for the weekend are all sponsored by local groups, who host events and programming all year long. From outdoor activities to world class restaurants to a vibrant arts community, there is a great variety of activities available year-round in the Columbia, S.C. region!”Councilman Howard E. Duvall, City of Columbia, S.C.


“With our region being identified as one of the top places in the country for the rare and highly desirable experience of viewing the first transcontinental total solar eclipse in 99 years, it’s a great time to be in Cayce, S.C.! Cayce is born out of the banks of the Congaree River and is the only place in the Midlands with continuous habitation for 12,000 years. With visitors and residents alike being able to enjoy a long weekend of more than 120 eclipse-related activities, it’s a great opportunity to showcase our unique City in the heart of the Midlands. There are events on the river, a major viewing festival at the first place Richard Petty ever won a race, and historical walking tours at the 12,000-Year History Park that is so special that the National Park Service trains our volunteers. Located just across the river from the capital city, Cayce has something for everyone, and we look forward to welcoming visitors from all over the world, not just for eclipse weekend, but again and again.” – Elise Partin, Mayor of the City of Cayce, S.C.



Quotes from Regional Astronomy Professionals


“Wear your eclipse glasses for the entire partial phases of the eclipse. During totality, take your eclipse glasses off. As totality begins, it will get dark very quickly and you’ll no longer be able to see the Sun through your eclipse glasses. This is your signal that it is completely safe to remove them and look directly at the eclipsed Sun. At the end of totality, a bright spot – called the Diamond Ring – will appear on the right side of the Sun. When this bright spot appears, put your eclipse glasses back on.” Matthew Whitehouse, observatory manager at the South Carolina State Museum and witness to a past total solar eclipse

“If in doubt about your eclipse glasses, you can either make a pinhole projector or use a cheese grater, colander, pegboard, or even a tree. With your back to the sun, you’ll see multiple shadows of the partial eclipse on the ground (or on a white piece of paper) as the partially eclipsed sun shines through each of the holes in the colander, cheese grater, pegboard or leafy tree canopy. These can look really cool! The great thing about being in the path of totality is that regardless of whether or not you have glasses, you can still look directly at the sun when darkness falls during totality. Don’t get too bummed out if you don’t have glasses, as you’ll still get to see the most awesome part.” – Liz Klimek, planetarium manager at the South Carolina State Museum

“A really wonderful aspect of this eclipse for us at USC is that it has opened up such broad academic interaction. We have engaged faculty from history, geography, journalism, geology, and many more departments. And the student volunteers are coming from all across the university, too. This is an astronomical event, but we astronomers could not have managed this alone. The campus-wide eclipse program is a real testament to the commitment to service and community at USC.”
– Dr. Steven Rodney, University of South Carolina Department of Physics and Astronomy in Columbia, S.C.


“When you look up on August 21 and see the sky go dark, take a moment to think about the extraordinary fact that you are actually standing in a shadow cast by the moon. When you feel the wind shift and the temperature drop, you are in a sense feeling the cooling touch of the moon, stretching across a few hundred thousand miles of empty space.” – Dr. Steven Rodney, University of South Carolina Department of Physics and Astronomy in Columbia, S.C.


“There is a total eclipse somewhere on earth about every other year, which sounds relatively common. But actually having an eclipse pass over your house is extremely rare, because each eclipse path is so narrow — only about 60 or 70 miles wide — and the earth’s surface is mostly covered with oceans and uninhabited spaces. The vast majority of humans will never experience a true total solar eclipse. We are really extraordinarily lucky to have this eclipse literally coming right into our backyards in Columbia.” – Dr. Steven Rodney, University of South Carolina Department of Physics and Astronomy in Columbia, S.C.



More Quotes from the University of South Carolina


“A total eclipse of the sun is much more than a rare astronomical event. It is an opportunity for our citizens to connect emotionally with nature and the universe. Who knows, in 2 minute and 36 seconds of daytime darkness, our spirits may be elevated and transformed.”  – Dr. Harris Pastides, President, University of South Carolina in Columbia, S.C.


Quotes from the State of South Carolina  


“Hotels in South Carolina cities along the path of totality are booked at unprecedented levels for a Sunday night and Monday night in August. Traffic could reach unprecedented levels too if hundreds of thousands of drivers head into the state on Monday, Aug. 21 in search of a prime viewing spot.” – Duane Parrish, Director, S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism

“Hotel bookings are a good indicator of increased tourism business during the eclipse but the number of day visitors and residents on South Carolina roads on Aug. 21 could potentially dwarf the number of overnight visitors traveling here for the event. South Carolina is a straight shot down I-95 and I-20 for nearly 100 million Americans living along the Atlantic Seaboard, their most direct route to the path of totality.” – Duane Parrish, Director, S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism

“While peak occupancy in all Columbia, Greenville and Charleston can reach 95 percent or more, levels between 50 percent and 70 percent on Sunday and Monday nights in August are common. Post-eclipse measurements will be available after the event, but preliminary data suggests that the eclipse could double Sunday and Monday night occupancy in Greenville and Columbia compared with last year and beat Charleston’s level last year by more than half. Considerable vacancies still exist on the Friday and Saturday nights before the eclipse, but advance bookings suggest occupancy could be up by double-digits over last year.” – Duane Parrish, Director, S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism


Quotes from Regional Public Safety Officials


“This is an exciting time for our state during this historic event. We urge everyone to get to your destination well before the eclipse so you can enjoy it with your family and friends and be safely off the roadways.” – U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robert E Livingston, Jr., the adjutant general of South Carolina

“We are excited about this event and because we have been planning for it, our safety officials are ready to support the influx of visitors to our state. Team South Carolina is prepared and ready as we always are.”U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robert E Livingston, Jr., the adjutant general of South Carolina


“Regardless of whether you have travelled far and wide or you call Richland County and the Columbia, S.C. region home, our community is extremely excited to welcome you to the events of Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C.  Moreover, rest assured that our community’s public safety professionals and first responders are working diligently to ensure that this most historic of events is a safe and enjoyable once-in-a-lifetime event for you and your family.” – Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott


“We are working to take all of the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of visitors, residents and businesses that are planning to take part in viewing the total solar eclipse. Our goal is to create a safe haven for everyone to enjoy what is expected to be a memorable experience in the city of Columbia. We want to remind all involved with this event to exercise good judgment and patience when entering and exiting viewing locations to avoid congestion.” – City of Columbia, S.C. Police Chief William H. “Skip” Holbrook


“Richland County is planning for heavy traffic, much in the same way we prepare for the influx in traffic during major statewide weather events. Richland County’s Emergency Operations Center will partially activate to monitor conditions and be ready if extra resources or special operations are needed. We will have extra emergency responders on duty and our ambulances will be carrying extra bottles of water.”  – Michael Byrd, Richland County Emergency Services Department Director



About Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C.

One of the Southeast’s most vibrant mid-sized cities, Columbia, S.C., is home to the longest total solar eclipse for a metro area on the East Coast and will host Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C., a long weekend of more than 120 eclipse-related festivals and events, from Aug. 18 to 21, 2017. At 2:41 p.m. on Monday, August 21, 2017, viewers in the greater Columbia, S.C., area will experience up to 2 minutes and 36 seconds of darkness in the middle of the afternoon. NASA estimates that South Carolina could see an influx of up to 1 million visitors to witness the U.S.’ first transcontinental total solar eclipse in 99 years. The Columbia, S.C., region’s long weekend of 120+ eclipse events includes a variety of large and small festivals; kid-friendly/family activities; food & drink parties; outdoor river and lake adventures; education, science & history events; art, film & music happenings and more. Dubbed the “Total Eclipse Capital of the East Coast,” Columbia, S.C., has been named a top U.S. viewing city, with coverage by the New York Times, USA Today, Buzzfeed, Newsweek, Fodor’s Travel, Forbes, the Chicago Tribune, the UK’s Telegraph, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post and others. Follow @TotalEclipseCAE and plan your Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. at https://totaleclipsecolumbiasc.com


About the Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. Campaign

Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. is a regional tourism campaign that was founded to create economic impact in the Midlands by inspiring local groups to host eclipse events and amplifying their efforts with a national public relations and marketing campaign, raising awareness of the Columbia, S.C. area as a vibrant, authentic destination filled with cool things to do all year round.


Facebook: www.facebook.com/totaleclipsecae  | Twitter and Instagram: @TotalEclipseCAE

Hashtags: #TotalEclipseCAE | #RealColumbiaSC


Media Contacts:

Tracie Broom, co-founding partner, Flock and Rally, 415.235.5718, tracie@flockandrally.com

Andrea Mensink, director of communications, Experience Columbia SC, 507.993.7178, amensink@experiencecolumbiasc.com