Lawrence eclipse party attracts about 2,000 people


A couple thousand people gathered at Lawrence Community Park April 8 for a day of food, music and fun, with the main event — the total solar eclipse — taking center stage at around 3 p.m.

Deputy Chief of Staff LeAndre Level said the administration is pleased with how the event came together after months of planning by various groups, including Mayor Deb Whitfield’s administration, the previous Mayor Steve Collier’s administration, the Greater Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, Fort Harrison YMCA and others.

Level said the event attracted locals and visitors.

“We had people from Illinois, we had people from Missouri come to our celebration — either they saw our Facebook ad or they just wanted to come to the city in general,” he said. “And so, we had a pretty packed festival.”

Level said that while some people left soon after totality passed — it lasted less than 4 minutes — many others stayed to enjoy the rest of the festival, which wrapped up around 5 p.m.

He said there were plenty of eclipse glasses available to protect people’s eyes and no reported disturbances during the event. And, he said, traffic was not nearly as bad as had been predicted.

“Traffic was very smooth, thanks to Lawrence police,” Level said. “There was one main entrance to get everyone in through Franklin Road. Everyone got in smoothly, and after totality, Lawrence police made sure everyone got out of Lawrence Community Park safely onto Franklin Road.”

He said there was a little bit of a vehicle lineup when people first started leaving, but it cleared up within 20 minutes.

The April 8 eclipse was the first total eclipse for the region in 800 years. The next one for this area is expected to be in 2153.