'A truly Americana experience': Nebraska small towns get creative to attract eclipse viewers who want to avoid a crowd

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Many small towns across Nebraska are doing what they do best to step out of the shadow of their bigger neighbors during the total solar eclipse this month.

Although places like Alliance, Gering and Scottsbluff, North Platte, Kearney, Grand Island, Hastings, Lincoln and Beatrice have cornered the buzz — and, likely, the bigger crowds — with visiting astronauts, astronomers and attractions, there are more than 150 smaller communities where it will be just as dark for just as long when the moon makes a midday pass in front of the sun Aug. 21.

Big Red welcome carpets are rolling out from Auburn and Falls City in the southeast to Broken Bow, Callaway and Ravenna in the center of the state, and Stapleton and Tryon in the Sand Hills.

Visitors are likely to go home with a few more pounds on the waistline, a lot more appreciation for life in rural America and several more friends.

To host people from around the world who are visiting to view a total solar eclipse from a village park, county fairground or cattle pasture is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, said Muriel Clark, assistant director of the North Platte/Lincoln County Visitors Bureau. She also manages the Facebook page for the Nebraska Eclipse Coalition.

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