From Skydiving To Wine Tasting, New York Readies For The Eclipse

For the first time in almost a century, the western and northern parts of New York state will experience a total eclipse.

From Skydiving To Wine Tasting, New York Readies For The  Eclipse

The rare occurrence has also inspired some jovial events in New York

Cities and towns across a swath of upstate New York will have a rare moment in the spotlight on Monday - once they're shrouded in complete darkness.

For the first time in almost a century, the western and northern parts of New York state will experience a total eclipse. The path of totality - a narrow stretch where the Moon obscures the Sun entirely - tracks across cities and towns including Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Jamestown.

Though the entire event will last for several hours, the main spectacle - when day turns to night - is expected to last only about four minutes. And yet the buildup has been years in the making.

"This is like our Super Bowl or Taylor Swift concert," said Patrick Kaler, chief executive officer of tourism agency Visit Buffalo Niagara. The first tour group booked an excursion to the area for the event on the heels of a partial solar eclipse in 2017, he said.

While the tourism boom will be brief, it's a welcome economic jolt for the region, which has been hard-hit by the loss of its industrial base. The manufacturing sector in New York shrank by more than 60% between the 1940s and 2009, according to a report by the state comptroller.

Buffalo will be one of the biggest beneficiaries. The state's second-biggest city is anticipating as many as a million visitors, according to Common Council Member Joel P. Feroleto. That's the same as the entire population of Erie County.

More than half of US cities along the eclipse's path are fully booked for the night of April 7, according to data from AirDNA, a data analytics company, with thousands of Airbnbs in the path of totality slated to reach 100% occupancy. In the Adirondacks and North Country, troopers are telling commuters to brace for traffic jams as long as 12 hours, and other areas are also expecting heavy congestion.

"I'll be biking to work," said Tommy Cowan, managing partner of Patrick's Rooftop, a Buffalo bar.

But even with the hassles, people are excited, Cowan said. His bar, which overlooks the Erie Canal, has sold close to 300 tickets to a solar eclipse viewing party. Each guest will receive a free pair of solar glasses and a menu with a recent add-on: eclipse cocktails.

Resurgence Brewing Co. had a similar idea. The Buffalo-based brewing company released an eclipse-themed draft beer - time-stamped 3:18 p.m., the moment Buffalo will experience totality - that sold out twice as fast as the average seasonal beer.

The company is also hosting an "eclipse bash" that's expected to turn out thousands, according to Jeff Ware, president of the brewery. Among the guests will be Andy Parker, a local weatherman who will lead discussions about the eclipse.

The rare occurrence has also inspired some less jovial events. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz weighed ordering businesses to close for the eclipse, citing traffic concerns. State lawmakers are requesting a day off, even with a budget deal that's already days late. And half a dozen inmates are suing after 23 upstate prisons announced plans to lock incarcerated people in their cells during the eclipse, which they say holds religious significance.

Amid the chaos, the only certainty is that no one wants to miss out. Following are some selected events for viewing the eclipse:

NASA at Niagara Falls

There's no party like a NASA party - well, at least not one celebrating a solar eclipse. The US space agency will be taking over Niagara Falls State Park - "See you on the dark side of the moon," the park's website says in a reference to Pink Floyd - through Monday. It will offer a range of stellar-related activities, including programming led by astronauts and scientists, space-themed music performances as well as planetarium shows. Attendees will also be perfectly situated to watch a fireworks display hosted by the Rochester-based grocery chain Wegmans at 8:30 p.m.

Lake Erie Wine Country

Apparently, the celestial event pairs perfectly with a glass of wine. Lake Erie Wine Country, a group of 21 wineries on the shoreline of the Great Lake, is hosting a four-day food and wine tasting that will culminate in a ticket-holders-only event to view the spectacle. The wine region stretches across 50 miles (80 kilometers) and contains almost 30,000 acres of vineyards that line Lake Erie.

Syracuse Mets

Baseball fans can stargaze at something other than their favorite players at the first-ever Total Eclipse of the Park at NBT Bank Stadium in Syracuse. The first 10,000 people through the gate - set to open at 2 p.m. - will receive complimentary eclipse glasses. After the spectacle, fans can stay to watch the Syracuse Mets take on the Worcester Red Sox.

Vintage Train

The A&A Railroad, located about an hour outside of Rochester, is offering a unique train ride that is sure to feel as magical as being aboard the Polar Express. The rare World War II-era diesel train will depart from Arcade Depot at 2 p.m. and chug along before terminating at Curriers Station in time for the totality viewing. Passengers are invited to bring lawn chairs and blankets for comfortable gazing.

Adirondacks Hike

The Ausable Chasm, the "Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks," has five miles of winding hiking trails with scenic views of roaring waterfalls and sandstone canyons. Located exactly in the middle of the path of totality, the hiking ground will house a "solar flats" viewing area for those that want to witness the event amid nature. The $19.95 admission cost covers parking, access to facilities, snacks and viewing glasses.

Skydiving Over Niagara Falls

If being plunged into pitch blackness in midday doesn't sound thrilling enough, Skydive the Falls is offering adrenaline junkies a chance to plunge from the sky at the same time. The tandem skydiving center is offering a "totality jump" from the highest altitude available in Western New York (up to 13,500 feet) that will be timed, perfectly, with the moment the world goes black.