CLAYTON, Ga. -- North Georgia is preparing for the upcoming solar eclipse and they expect it to be a once in a lifetime event.
11Alive is in Rabun County - one of a small group of Georgia locations in the path of eclipse totality.
Downtown Clayton, Georgia is quiet on Tuesday, but soon it should be overrun with tourists decked out in their protective glasses as they come to watch a total solar eclipse.
It’s a rare event that usually requires spectators to travel vast distances to see. And while a total solar eclipse is coming to more than 2,200 Clayton residents, thousands more are expected to arrive soon.
“Amazingly, this eclipse is drawing people into our area from all 50 states and maybe even some foreign countries,” Kay NeSmith said.
NeSmith said planning for the eclipse started more than a year ago at the Rabun County Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center. And an entire community is helping roll out the welcome mat to those traveling from near and far.
“Lots of people are helping from all over - all walks of life,” she said. “They’re pitching in and volunteering and they’re going to be a part of history.”
At the Beechwood Inn Bed and Breakfast, they have folks coming in on Friday while others are coming in on Saturday.
The inn’s owners Dave and Gayle Darugh said they hit 100 percent capacity for the eclipse back in May of 2016.
“The town has been pretty well sold out for hotel rooms,” Dave said. “For bed and breakfast inns, for vacation rentals, camping spots for months. Months.”
Now, Rabun county business owners are ready to share the scenic views and hospitality which keep regular tourists coming back.
“But now, we are going to reach different audiences who are coming from far and away,” Gayle said. “That is going to be really good for our economy. I think those people will come again.”
At Mama G’s Italian Restaurant, Paul Gaglio said the eclipse is the talk of the town.
“A lot of people didn’t know the scope of what it was when they first started discussing it,” he said.
Locals have since heard tales of packed streets and massive numbers of tourists.
Mama G’s has even decided to close on Aug 21 to avoid any traffic messes.
“Be able to let my employees enjoy it - my kids,” Gaglio said. “We are going to be with my mom that day. But we are expecting it to be a long weekend still - being open Friday and Saturday.”
Around Rabun County, everyone is now hoping the clouds will stay away and it will be all clear skies for north Georgia’s moment of darkness.
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