The small southern Illinois town of Carbondale was revving up on Sunday to become eclipse central on the eve of a total solar eclipse that will traverse the continental United States for the first time in 99 years.
Carbondale is a few miles north of the point of greatest duration of the celestial event and will have a total eclipse for two minutes and 38 seconds on Monday.
Many residents of Carbondale, a town of 26,000 people 70 miles (112 km) southeast of St. Louis, have been capitalizing on the celestial blackout, from renting out their homes to creating eclipse-themed merchandise.
Artist Matt Sronkoski has been selling hand-painted eclipse T-shirts for months and said he had created hundreds of individual designs. His shirts are so popular he has been selling them overseas, from “England to the South China Sea,” he said.
“I am very proud of that,” the Carbondale native said.
The eclipse starts its cross-country trek over the Pacific coast of Oregon in late morning and reaches South Carolina’s Atlantic shore 90 minutes later. The sight of the moon’s shadow passing directly in front of the sun could draw the biggest live audience of a celestial event in human history.
The campus of Southern Illinois University has been transformed into an eclipse-themed entertainment center. It includes an arts and crafts fair, a carnival and a science fair, with the U.S. space agency stationed outside the school’s Saluki Stadium to broadcast live during the event.
The eclipse events at Saluki Stadium are expected to be attended by 14,000 people, with tickets costing $25.
Many visitors said they had trouble finding lodging, with hotels booked up months in advance and Carbondale residents charging hundreds of dollars a night for available rooms at short-term rentals websites such as AirBnB.
Isela Arellano, who is visiting from Chicago with her children and husband, said they ended up staying in Troy, Illinois, a two-hour drive from Carbondale.
“It was most definitely quite difficult. We looked at AirBnB, but the prices were just outrageous,” she said.
In Shawnee National Forest, more than 40 miles (64 km) southeast of Carbondale, officials temporarily closed access on Sunday to three areas where visitors clogged roads with parked cars, according to the park’s Facebook page.
An estimated 300,000 people were expected to visit the forest during the eclipse, National Forest Service spokeswoman Tracy Fidler told local newspaper the Belleville News-Democrat.
(Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles, Editing by Ian Simpson, Peter Cooney and Paul Tait)
Donald Trump: ‘My life has always been a fight’
The full interview with President Donald Trump finally aired on ABC Sunday, revealing the shocking way that he views his life.
Trump lamented that he's had such a hard life, as the son of multi-millionaires who paid to get him out of trouble multiple times.
"You're a fighter. You, you, it feels like you're in a constant kind of churn--" host George Stephanopoulos began.
"Yeah, uh, my life has always been a fight," Trump said. "And I enjoy that I guess, I don't know if I enjoy it or not, I guess -- sometimes I have false fights like the Russian witch hunt. That's a false fight. That's a made-up, uh, hoax. And I had to fight that."
The right-wing scored more in years of Trump than eight years of George W. Bush: report
President George W. Bush oversaw eight years that restricted rights, banned LGBTQ equality, appointed anti-choice judges and so much more. But under Donald Trump's presidency, social conservatives have managed to roll back any progress made by President Barack Obama's leadership.
A new Axios report listed out any anti-LGBTQ, anti-women and anti-poor policies.
“He campaigned saying that he would be a good friend to LGBT people,” James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s LGBT and HIV Project, told VOX. "Actions speak far louder than words. And what he's done has been a wreck."
Pete Buttigieg says ‘statistically’ we’ve already had a gay president — meet President James Buchanan
In an interview with Axios, Mayor Pete Buttigieg said that "statistically" it makes sense that out of the 45 presidents in American history, one of them was LGBT. Statistics aside, the reality is that former President James Buchanan has prompted historians to question.
The moment came when the Axios HBO show questioned what the young mayor would do when he's attacked for being "too gay."
"Republicans claimed that John Kerry was a traitor in Vietnam. That Barack Obama was a Muslim. If you were to win the nomination, they'll say you're too young, too liberal, too gay to be commander-in-chief. You are young. You are a liberal. You are gay. How will you respond?" asked Mike Allen.