Eclipse Sunday

People stick pins into a map Sunday showing where eclipse festival-goers traveled from during the Wyoming Eclipse Festival in downtown Casper. The event drew thousands of visitors to the city’s core.

Alan Rogers, Star-Tribune

Congratulations, Casper.

The Wyoming Eclipse Festival was a resounding success, with the vast majority of locals and visitors conducting themselves in safe, law-abiding and festive ways.

As promised, the sun and the moon danced in the sky – and it was so much more spectacular than many of us had imagined – but with all due respect to outer space and its many wonders, what happened right here on Earth was just as impressive.

And unlike the perfect pairing of the moon and the sun above our state, none of that was a cosmic coincidence. It was the result of hard work, dedication and preparation by officials, festival planners, emergency personnel and volunteers.

Think of it. Wyoming’s population nearly tripled on the day of the eclipse. Casper business owners and downtown leaders scrambled to open and prepare establishments in time. Forecasts leading up to the big moment called for cloudy skies, potentially sending would-be revelers to Wyoming’s highways and roads in search of places with better outlooks. As we looked toward it, the weekend brimmed with questions: How many people would come? How many would be injured or sick? How many would get lost? How many people could our restaurants and businesses accommodate? Would arrests increase as the population swelled?

There were so many ways for things to go wrong. And instead, they went almost unerringly right.

People – both those who live here and those who visited for the festivities – conducted themselves with respect and camaraderie, making for a wonderful social experience as they rubbed shoulders downtown. Officials said there were fewer arrests and injuries than they had anticipated. Every Casper business with a stated goal to be open for the eclipse made it, and it appears that the event provided a much-appreciated shot in the arm for many local businesses and communities across the state. The new David Street Station became the centerpiece of a very memorable eclipse weekend in Casper. And at the last moment, even the weather cooperated, as the skies above our city cleared in time for the occasion.

We couldn’t have asked for a better weekend. Casper and the rest of the state should be very proud of this festival, which provided an unforgettable experience for visitors and locals alike. We hope that for many of those tourists, this is the start of a love affair with our state and city – and we hope to see them back again soon, enjoying our unique state and boosting its economy.

For now, though, everyone involved can take a deep breath, maybe for the first time in months, and rest easy knowing that when it comes to events – including cosmic celebrations – Casper turned out to be more than up to the task.

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