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Local entities making preparations for solar eclipse

Jan. 20—ANDERSON — Dr. William Kopp has had experience navigating the kind of large crowds expected in Madison County for a total solar eclipse in April.

Kopp, a local physician, said it took him 18 hours roundtrip to Kentucky to view a partial solar eclipse in 2017.

Traffic "was bumper to bumper," Kopp said during a recent county health board meeting.

An estimated 130,000 people will travel to Madison County for the total eclipse April 8.

"We're expecting a humongous influx" of visitors, county health administrator Stephenie Mellinger told the board.

Some industry experts believe the eclipse will be the biggest tourism event in Indiana's history. Anywhere from 145,000 to 581,000 people are expected to visit.

It will be the first time in 800 years that the region will be in a total solar eclipse's path.

The event is expected to be a major tourism draw. Mellinger said she was told that nearly all of the local hotel rooms are booked.

Officials with the Madison County Chamber of Commerce said the eclipse will be a big event. The Chamber will co-host a watch party along with the City of Anderson, the Anderson Madison County Visitors Bureau and the Anderson Municipal Airport.

There will be a DJ and food trucks, said Clayton Whitson, president and CEO of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce.

Traffic may pose a problem for ambulances. As a result, the county health department will have its mobile unit available to treat minor injuries.

The health department will also provide eye protection, which will soon become available at the department's office in Anderson. A precise timeline was not provided.

Madison County will be one of 51 counties in the state where the April 8 total solar eclipse will be visible. The eclipse should reach Madison County by 3 p.m. and will be visible for about three minutes.

Those who miss the eclipse will have to wait another 20 years. The next total solar eclipse visible in the United States will be on Aug. 23, 2044.

That eclipse will likely reach totality in North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana, according to nationaleclipse.com. Indiana was not listed as an affected state.

Editor's note: This article has been edited to mention all of the sponsors of the eclipse watch party.

Follow Caleb Amick on Twitter @AmickCaleb. Contact him at caleb.amick@heraldbulletin.com or 765-648-4254.