Photo by Joe Chitwood
When Hershey merchants have a main street barbecue on eclipse day Aug. 21, what started out as “something to do” to celebrate will be a bigger event than originally anticipated.Hershey State Bank Branch President Kaye Monie said bank employees were enjoying their morning coffee a few weeks ago and the discussion turned to the total eclipse.
“We were sitting around wondering what everyone was going to do,” Monie said. “We all wanted to enjoy it, so I thought we should close the bank and watch it together. “
“I came up with the idea we should do a business barbecue and close from 12-2. Then we called all the businesses in town to ask if they were interested and everybody was on board and said they would all close.”
She said all the merchants are contributing to the event.
"Home Lumber and Supply is providing solar viewing glasses, the village is giving us water, setting up all the picnic benches on the street and blocking off the main street."
The phone company is providing salad and condiments, the grocery store -- supplies and chips, Simplot will make their famous potato fries and the bank will supply hotdogs.
“I think the word is out,” Monie said. “I keep hearing about more people planning on coming. So, I think that whoever shows up and we have enough food, we are going to serve them.”
There will be no charge to anyone, the bank is sponsoring it, she said.
“I am getting a little bit nervous,” she said. “We were planning on about 300 but I have raised it to 500. It is exciting.”
Hershey School Superintendent Jane Davis said the school will close that day, but has plans to incorporate the eclipse into their curriculum.
“We had a trainer come out in May and service our staff on the eclipse and he gave us curriculum ideas,” she said. “Then we gave our staff time on their in-service days to develop curriculum. They will be teaching about the eclipse prior to it, and then again after.”
The school opted to close and give children a chance to be outside to witness the eclipse.
“It will be nice for them to be out there with their parents and families,” Davis said. “And we have solar glasses from the North Platte Visitor’s Bureau, which we will hand out to all the kids and staff.”
“It is just neat that every business got involved and kind of exciting that school kids and so many more are talking about showing up,” Monie said.