Full moon fever: Final preparations underway in Zionsville, Boone County for April 8 eclipse


Boone County is finalizing plans with local communities, including Zionsville, for the April 8 total solar eclipse.

With a tongue-in-cheek theme and various activities planned, Discover Boone County wants to capitalize on the area’s location within the path of totality.

“Get Mooned in Boone is the theme that we have across the county,” Discover Boone County Executive Director Allyson Gutwein said. “We really are trying to compete with some of these larger counties that have a lot more going on, only because of their size. So, we had to get clever. We knew that was going to attract attention just by the name alone.”

Gutwein said Discover Boone County has turned the eclipse into a full weekend event, but the activities are not centered solely on travelers. The tourism bureau has also worked to make sure residents are ready for what’s to come.

“Treat it like a blizzard day,” Gutwein said. “Get your groceries early, fill your car up with gas early. It’s certainly a day to expect traffic, so if you don’t have to go someplace, then don’t. Call emergency services only if it’s really an emergency.”

Gutwein said increased traffic on cell towers will be beyond a normal day, which means communications could even be affected.

“It might be difficult for those trying to process a credit card, so we’re telling businesses to expect to take cash,” she said. “Or if you’re coming as a visitor or as a resident, that day you might want to take cash with you.”

Although the planning is mostly fun and games, there’s a serious component when it comes to the eclipse: Protecting your vision.

Dr. Grace Arnold, an optometrist with Zionsville Eyecare, said looking at the sun without those signature eclipse glasses can lead to serious eye damage, including photokeratitis, painful eye damage as a result of exposure to ultraviolet light.

“It can lead to damage in your photoreceptors, which can lead to vision loss. It can kill off those cells,” said Arnold, noting that after any eclipse event there is usually an uptick in visits from people who didn’t use protective glasses.

Zionsville Eyecare recently handed out 3,000 pairs of eclipse glasses to the public in exchange for food donations, which will be boxed up and distributed to Zionsville Presbyterian Church, Shalom House and Zionsville Middle Schools for their backpack lunch program.

Besides crowds expected to view the eclipse, Boone County is also expecting local hotels to be booked solid.

“The likelihood is that we’ll see increased traffic,” Gutwein said. “We want people to be prepared because so many of the businesses in 2017 that were in the path of totality saw a huge bump for business. Some in Hopkinsville, Ky., saw a 260 percent increase in business on a single day. April is typically a soft retail month for restaurants as well, so people should take advantage of this. We have all this increased traffic; we want that money to stay in Boone County.”

Overall, the eclipse is expected to benefit all of Boone County and the entire state.

“This is one of the rare events that also benefits our community equitably,” Gutwein said. “Everyone is equitably covered by this path of totality, and that means everyone can take advantage.”

Get Mooned in Boone

Eclipse boone county zionsville
Zionsville Parks and Recreation will turn Mulberry Fields Park into eclipse central with activities from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. April 8. (Photo by Marney Simon)

Total Eclipse of the Park

Mulberry Fields Park, 9645 Whitestown Road, Zionsville

The Zionsville Parks and Recreation Department, in partnership with other Zionsville community groups, will host a viewing party at Mulberry Fields Park from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. Visitors can enjoy STEAM activities, food trucks, a bubble machine, and music.

Eclipse boone county lions park
The Zionsville Lions Club has $40 reserved spots in their parking lot near downtown where people can spend the entire day on April 8. (Photo by Marney Simon)

Zionsville Lions Club and Park

11053 Sycamore St, Zionsville

Parking for passenger vehicles is available at the Zionsville Lions Club and Park is available for $40. Visitors have access to two playgrounds, pickleball, tennis and basketball courts, sand volleyball, baseball diamonds, and a creekside hiking trail. Food will be available on-site and it is just a short walk to the historic brick Main Street for shops and restaurants. The parking lot opens at 8 a.m. No large trucks, buses or RVs will be allowed. Reserve a space by visiting zionsvillelions.com/lions-park-in-the-dark.

Solar Jam

Main Street Park, 4286 S. Main Street, Whitestown

From 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. visitors can gather at Main Street Park. Activities will include live music from the Vinyl Escape Band, local food trucks, and community sponsors. There will be a limited number of solar eclipse glasses available for attendees on a first-come, first-served basis. Parking on-site is limited. Attendees are encouraged to bring a blanket or lawn chairs to enjoy the event. No personal pop-up tents or canopies are permitted.

For more on eclipse events, visit discoverboonecounty.com.