Midwest Renewable Energy Office Manager Cindy Crosby said her company organized an “eclipse party” at the Sutherland Rodeo Arena on Monday, Aug. 21.“It is just an opportunity to get the community together and enjoy the moment,” she said.
The gates to the rodeo grounds will open at 10:30 a.m., she said.
“We will serve lunch for $5 for adults and anyone under 12 will eat free. They don’t have to buy the lunch, they can bring their own coolers, food and beverages if they want," she said.
“There will be plenty of water available and we will give everyone a pair of viewing glasses, “Crosby said. “People can bring their lawn chairs and shade cover on the arena and also the grandstand will be available for seating.”
In case of inclement weather, they have secured the American Legion Hall.
“We will have an eight-foot projector screen there that will broadcast the eclipse from NASA,” she said. “And It will be an option for elderly people who might not be able to come to the rodeo grounds or anyone else can go in there to cool off a bit.”
Sutherland School Superintendent Dan Keyser said the school will be closed that day for an educational field day. The school plans to prepare the students for the eclipse.
“We are going to educate and train our kids on the science behind the eclipse and we will spend time talking about safety when viewing it,” he said.
When students return to school on Aug. 22 they will have an assignment to write about the experience.
Keyser said he expects many of the students to attend the party at the rodeo grounds and to insure their safety, the school will provide viewing glasses for all of the students and staff.
“This eclipse is bigger than what we actually realize. It is a huge thing so we are really going to encourage everybody to be outside to experience it. We are really excited about it and want to make it a learning experience,” Keyser said. “I believe some of our Boy Scout troops are traveling to different areas to watch.”
Midwest Renewable owners in Omaha made the final decision to host the event, Crosby said.
“And actually, we have a person working with us here, a guy from Sweden, Eric Lungren, whose brother is an astronomer, so he got real interested in it and first brought the idea to me," she said.
“When he first came to me, I said ‘well ok we’ll do it,’ but then I figured out how big a deal it was, so it has grown into something bigger than we thought it was going to be,” she said.
“We originally planned for 300 lunches but I raised that up to 500, and I am not sure that will be enough,” Crosby said.