South KC eclipse watch parties and more
By Jill Draper
On Monday, Aug. 21, tens of millions of people in the United States will be able to witness a total eclipse of the sun—the first one in our nation since 1979. The path of totality cuts across Missouri shortly after 1 p.m. from Kansas City to Cape Giradeau.
Nearly every city in the path is planning programs and watch parties with festive names like Total Eclipse of the Heartland (Perryville and Carrollton), Moonstruck in Marshall, Prepare for Dark Times (Liberty), Capital Eclipse (Jefferson City), Blackout in Boonville, Show Me Totality (Columbia) and Dark Side of the Square (Independence). South Kansas City lies slightly outside the path, but residents still can expect to see 99 percent of this celestial event when the moon blocks the light of the sun at midday.
Schools in the area will be using the eclipse as a teaching moment, and most students will be outside following the lunch hour to experience the dark sky.
Center School District has purchased 3,500 pairs of eclipse glasses for every student and adult in the district. Meanwhile, science instructors, media specialists, teachers and administrators are working on lessons and projects to highlight the experience, says Kelly Wachel, executive director of public relations. She adds that school staff will be tweeting photos that day on their account: @CenterSD.
St. Thomas More principal Brian Borgmeyer says his school also is providing special glasses to all 500 students. “Each grade level will do something a little bit different, but we’re all going outside behind the school to view the eclipse,” he says. For one activity, teachers will set up thermometers so children can measure the temperature drop.
At St. Joseph Medical Center, the leadership team will decorate a cart with pictures showing phases of the moon and wheel it around to hand out Sunchips and sugar-free Eclipse chewing gum to patients and staff, according to Ericka Beeler, business development executive.
Another large employer in the area, Burns & McDonnell, will distribute eclipse glasses to their staff and will schedule an expert speaker a week before the event for all interested employees, says Kristi Widmar, corporate communications manager.
Although the event occurs around lunchtime, most local restaurants and bars have not announced any eclipse specials with the exception of Jasper Mirabile. He plans to offer a Total Solar Eclipse Tartufo featuring Moon Cherries at his Jasper’s and Marco Polo restaurants on 103rd Street. Southside Grill, 103rd & State Line, is offering 10 percent off for those with eclipse glasses as well as Tequila Sunrise specials all day.
Stores are selling eclipse T-shirts (“I survived the great blackout” and “Ground Zero Missouri”) and the Postal Service was inspired to produce a Total Eclipse of the Sun stamp—the first in U.S. history to be printed using thermochromic ink which responds to the heat of touch. Press a finger over the dark image of a solar eclipse and it becomes an image of the full moon. It reverts to the original image as it cools back down.
The Martin City Post Office sold out of its original supply of eclipse stamps in two days, but more have been ordered. Call them at 816-943-8589 to check on the status of these Forever stamps, which cost 49 cents each.