By: Elysia Conner,
Thousands of visitors are expected to flock to Casper for the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse. Before that happens, the city is hoping to spruce up a bit.
Officials are planning a Casper Eclipse Festival, with more than 40 events throughout the city. And volunteers are preparing to make sure that visitors find a clean and orderly city when they arrive.
Those visitors will find several public and private projects that are slated to be ready in time for the festivities.
For instance, work is now underway on the David Street Station public plaza and several new businesses in the downtown area, Casper Eclipse Festival Director Anna Wilcox said. Businesses and organizations throughout town are preparing to welcome and cater to visitors and locals alike, she said.
The eclipse festival office is recruiting volunteers to share information with the public about viewing the eclipse and staying safe while enjoying Casper.
“The events and the things that are happening are not just a benefit to the folks who are coming to visit,” Wilcox sad. “This will be one of the greatest weekends to live in Casper. You will have five, 10 different things to choose from every day, depending on what you’re into, to get out and enjoy it.”
Benefit for generations
The first stage of downtown’s David Street Station is nearing completion. It will feature the Brian Scott Gamroth stage and a planned canopy of lights that will stretch over a promenade walkway, Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Kevin Hawley said.
The plaza isn’t being built because of the eclipse, though the first phase of the project will be finished by then to offer a gathering and event space, Hawley said.
“This is something that will benefit our community for generations,” Hawley added. “I just can’t wait for August when we open and people can come down and experience it.”
Keep Casper Beautiful is organizing volunteers for the Great Casper Cleanup to make sure the major roads look good, coordinator Beth Andress said.
Volunteers ages 12 and up can sign up in advance to clean sections including Interstate 25, Wyoming Boulevard and Yellowstone Highway.
The group is also working with the Eclipse Festival to give event organizers tips to keep their events clean, Andress said.
Keep Casper Beautiful hosts programs throughout the summer with youth and volunteer groups as part of its usual efforts, so no additional cleanups are needed. But people who want to help out can contact the respective organizers about volunteering, Andress said.
Several previously scheduled city upkeep projects will also benefit the eclipse festival. For instance, the city plans to freshen road markings, said city streets and traffic manager Shad Rodgers.
Road construction projects this summer include asphalt and concrete repairs on 15th, McKinley, Wolcott and Durbin streets as well as Wyoming Boulevard, Landmark Drive and East 21st Street, he said. Construction not finished by the eclipse will be kept to a minimum that weekend.
All city departments will be on standby, available for any type of emergency services that may be needed, Rodgers said.
New traffic box wraps decorated by local artists are being installed this summer, which will help beautify the city in time for the eclipse festival, Andress said. New playgrounds at Mike Cedar, Washington Park and Conwell Parks will coincide not just with summer, but also with the eclipse festival crowds, she added.
Regular upkeep, such as mowing parks, is on a normal schedule and will benefit visitors as well, parks manager Dan Coryell said. Efforts specifically for the eclipse include a portable shower/bathroom unit for RV campers at the Casper Events Center, he said.
A trail from Crossroads Park to the Casper Events Center is also scheduled to be redone, Coryell said.
“It worked out perfectly, because we’re expecting a lot of people to be near the Events Center, down in the hotels and down in that area,” he said.