The tiny town of Makanda is the place to be to see the longest totality for the solar eclipse next week.
When you talk about Makanda the first thing that people think of, besides the eclipse, is the boardwalk.
It’s the focal point of the downtown, built 120 years ago in 1897 and has seen lots of people and businesses come through.
For 16 years Brian Beverly has made the boardwalk home to the Makanda Trading Company.
It’s a unique shop with a little bit of everything.
“It’s international stuff, I’ve traveled to 50 countries getting it all, incense and there’s a lot of metal statues and wooden stuff, old coins you name it, anything that I see that I like I try to bring it back.”
With the possibility of people from around the world gathering in Makanda for the total solar eclipse, Beverly’s not sure what to expect.
“We don’t know, somebody said 20,000 people down here, but we have parking for 300, we’re going to be in a lot of trouble if that happens.”
That’s when Beverly reminded me about the age of the boardwalk.
“Your standing on 1897 there, and each time it goes up it’s a little newer, cause that was all gone, a guy came in a restored the whole building.”
He has a plan for the day of the eclipse, but there’s also something he has to be aware of.
“I’ll just be inside the store here just taking money, pretty much (laughs), I don’t know, the concerns I do have is this floor is from 1897, if a bunch of people get on it, I don’t know how much weight its going to hold.”
During the Spring and Fall Makanda hosts a festival that brings in a few thousand people over the course of the weekend, so they’re used to having large crowds.
“People come in waves, they stay for 20-30 minutes, they leave, they go somewhere else so it’s always a good steady flow.”
The eclipse is estimated to last 90 minutes from beginning to end, which could have people staying longer then what the boardwalk is used to.
But Beverly is prepared.
“I’ve had 50 people in here no problem, so I don’t want to get like 55 people in here and find out that’s too many.”
At the end of the boardwalk is the Rain Maker Studio owned by Dave Dardis.
He specializes in metal work making jewelry, sculptures and displays - some of them in the sculpture garden behind his studio.
He’s been busy getting ready for the eclipse.
“I’ve been making these medallions or pendants, solar pendants I called them, with a black stone in the middle and I’ve been making sculptures, big sculptures like what’s on the wall here and else where.”
He’s already seen an increase in visitors well before the eclipse.
“I think what’s happening is there’s more people coming into town and checking it out, I’ve been here for 45 years and at this time of the year its summer its usually hot and your not making much money, but now there’s more people coming through and the curiosity people and so things are changing for everybody.”
The one thing that won’t change is the boardwalk.
“That’s what we have in Makanda, we brag on having a boardwalk, so the owners are always repairing the boards, if it’s even a little bit shaky its always replaced.”
After the eclipse Makanda will once again be out of the spotlight…
For a little while at least.
“I hope it doesn’t stop but then again after the event I hope it does stop you know, I need a little rest.”
“So Tuesday everything will be back to normal?”
“I would imagine, there will be like 6 people here.”
The total solar eclipse will last 2 minutes and 41 seconds in Makanda.
On April 8th 2024 Makanda will have another total solar eclipse lasting over 4 minutes.