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How one town in the path of totality is prepping for an eclipse influx

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On Monday afternoon, the Vermont town of Stowe will plunge into semi-darkness for two minutes and 48 seconds during the solar eclipse.

But it’s taken a lot longer to get ready for those few minutes in the path of totality.

“Getting prepared for the eclipse has been over a year in the making,” Jennifer Greene, the marketing manager for Stowe Area Association, told The Independent.

All of North America will see at least a partial eclipse on Monday, during the Great American Eclipse of 2024, when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth. But a strip of the country, from a corner of Texas all the way up to Maine, will experience the natural phenomena of a full eclipse — and an influx of tourists there to witness it.

The path of totality runs through multiple major cities that are accustomed to hosting big events — Austin, Dallas, Indianapolis, Cleveland — but it also cuts through states that haven’t seen anything like this for decades. Up to 4 million people are estimated to travel to the path of totality, with searches on Airbnb for the eclipse period up over 1,000 percent.

Stowe, a town of just over 5000 residents, is normally quiet in April. Chilly, but at the end of the skiing season, hotel occupancy is usually around 30 percent. Fall is its busiest season, when tourists flock to the charming New England mountain town for its stunning fall foliage. During its most crowded October weekends, hotel occupancy sits at around 85 percent.

The eclipse is a little different. This Sunday night, before Monday’s eclipse, hotel occupancy in Stowe is at 99 per cent. Short term rentals are at 90 percent occupancy for Monday, with Stowe one of the most-booked eclipse destinations on Airbnb.

“It’s a very odd event to prepare for because you don’t know what you don’t know,” said Greene. “There are some people who are like: Is this really as big of a deal as we think? And then there’s some people who are like: This is just going to be so overwhelming, it’s going to be too much. And I’m kind of hoping we’re somewhere comfortably in the middle.”

Greene first became aware that Stowe was in the path of totality when her mother flagged it to her over a year ago because she thought the eclipse might be a good chance for a family BBQ.

Quickly it became clear it was going to be a lot bigger than…

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