John and Barb Rezabek, of Lima, will be in “Hoptown” today. So will Larry and Sue Holt.
What is happening in “Hoptown” — officially known as Hopkinsville, Kentucky — is the biggest thing to hit the city since its first McDonald’s restaurant opened.
Astronomers have dubbed the Christian County home of 31,577 residents as the “point of greatest eclipse.” For 2 minutes and 40 seconds — at 2:24:41 p.m. Eastern Time to be exact — the best view in the world of Mother Nature’s rare total solar eclipse will be in this western Kentucky city, located at the intersection of Interstates 69 and 24, just an hour from Nashville, Tennessee.
The Rezabeks and Holts are among the thousands making the pilgrimage.
“We planned it back in February,” John Rezabek said. “The more we talked about it, the more fun it sounded.”
Their group was the fourth to make a reservation at a campground for recreational vehicles. The early planning was a good move as accommodations around the city now come with a hefty price.
There are 45 hotels listed on Hotels.com within a half hour of Hoptown. As of 2 p.m. Saturday, only the Best Western had a room available. It was going for $400 a night with a minimum two-night stay. Four minutes later it was sold. A room at the Baymount did pop up Sunday. The asking price: $900.
Meanwhile, the All Nations House of Prayer was offering people 12-foot-by-12-foot “viewing locations” on its “beautiful grounds” for $30 a night. Guests were allowed to set up chairs, blankets and telescopes. If they only wanted the spot for Monday, it’s $20 a person.
Prices were more reasonable for food at the town festivals Saturday and Sunday, with sandwiches going for around $7.
“The local people are capitalizing on things, but other than hotels, there hasn’t been too much gouging,” Larry Holt said. The Holts came down Saturday with Doug and Lauretta Williams, of Tecumseh, Michigan, who own the recreational vehicle. They’ve been taking things in all weekend.
“We’ve met people from Connecticut and Florida. It’s a festive mood,” Holt said.
Rezabek said he’s been a stargazer since childhood. He’s monkeyed around with a telescope and has viewed the night sky in the Southwest. For him, being in Hopkinsville on Monday afternoon is a cross between Woodstock and the Super Bowl of astronomy.
What makes this eclipse special is it will be the first eclipse to travel from coast-to-coast in the United States in 99 years. It will be in “totality” along a 2,600-mile length and 70-mile wide path.
The Lima region will see about 85 percent of the eclipse around 2:30 p.m. The sun will look like an orange sliver of a crescent against a dark blue sky.
Rezabek left Sunday morning for the 6.5-hour, 400-mile drive. This afternoon’s weather should see mostly sunny skies, according to AccuWeather.
“I have my certified eclipse glasses; we’re ready to roll,” he said. “It’s an adventure … a once-in-a-lifetime trip.”
ROSES AND THORNS:A show of courage earns a special spot in the rose garden.
Rose: To William White, 51, a former Lima Senior football standout who went on to star for Ohio State and play in the Super Bowl for the Atlanta Falcons. He showed up for a fundraiser for Lima Senior’s football program despite facing a fatal disease. He is being treated for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), which has no cure as it causes muscles throughout the body to atrophy.
Rose: You can once again see the cross atop a church steeple heading into Westminster from the north or south on state Route 117. Westminster United Methodist Church members replaced the old steeple, which was destroyed by lightning, with a new 29-foot-tall structure.
Rose: To Kathy Stedke, of OSU-Lima. She became the first person from a regional campus to ever win the University Libraries Director’s Award.
Rose: To Toni King and family, who have donated around $140,000 the last 10 years to various charities in honor of her late son, Dan. Last week they donated $3,200 worth of toys, games and crafts to the pediatric units at Lima Memorial Health System and St. Rita’s Medical Center.
Rose: Allen County Sheriff Matt Treglia goes into the publishing business, putting out a twice-a-year newsletter that will provide a wealth of statistics and information about the staff.
Rose: The Red Pig Inn of Ottawa won the People’s Choice, Grand Champion Ribs, and Reserve Champion Pulled Pork awards at the Ohio State Fair’s 21st annual Pork Rib-Off.
Rose: To Sister Anna Maria Sanders of Immaculate Conception Catholic Parish in Ottoville. She celebrated 60 years of religious service.
Thorn: The Columbus Grove pool and nearby community center were ordered closed by the health department after water quality tests returned a positive chloroform sample.
Thorn: In a span of three days, Lima police officers were called to break up 10 fights.
PARTING SHOT: “Courage is being scared to death … and saddling up anyway.” — John Wayne
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.