Gerald MO looks to cash in solar eclipse in 2017

GERALD, MO (KTVI) - Gerald, Missouri, officials are hoping next year's solar eclipse will shine a light on their Franklin County town.

It`s the same sun you and I see every day.

But on August 21, 2017, the moon will pass directly between the sun and the earth, and on a narrow strip that stretches across America from northwest to southeast, we will experience a solar eclipse.

The town of Gerald, Missouri, is right in the middle of that strip.  And officials here see an opportunity.

Jim Hackstedt is with the Gerald Area Chamber of Commerce.

“We as citizens of Gerald have been told we are basically in the center of the eclipse,” said Hackstedt.  “And we've been told we will be able to witness first-hand where the sun will be completely darkened out by the moon.  And it will occur for two minutes and forty seconds, approximately.”

Hackstedt, elected officials, and representatives of civic organizations are part of a committee assigned to look into what the eclipse means for Gerald.

Mayor Hillary Ward said, “For a town like Gerald, this could mean a lot.  I mean it's a whole bunch of extra people potentially that would come to Gerald and we can showcase what Gerald has to offer.”

At Family Traditions Restaurant along Highway 50, they`re not advertising any eclipse specials on the display board outside.  But inside, that doesn`t mean cook Nick McBride`s not thinking about it.

“I mean every Friday we do all you can eat catfish,” said McBride.  “So if it's on a Friday, watch the eclipse and eat catfish.  Bar-b-q that night.  Just get people to come out, have a good time.”

McBride is only half-joking about catfish and bar-b-q.  And that’s exactly the kind of thing Gerald officials are talking about—how do they maximize this opportunity?

In Gerald, the eclipse will begin before noon, with totality at about 1 pm.