St. Joseph’s mall is reserving guaranteed parking spaces for people to witness the total solar eclipse.
The St. Joseph Convention & Visitors Bureau contacted East Hills Shopping Center about a year ago asking them to be a watch site on Aug. 21. East Hills’ Marketing Director Regan Lyons said the spots are expected to sell out soon.
“I get at least 20 calls and 10 to 20 emails a day from people,” she said.
There also will be different food and merchandise vendors in the parking lot on the day of the eclipse.
The outside of the shopping center isn’t the only place viewers can hang out. Lyons said there will be free planetarium shows from Aug. 19 through 21, which will be located in the center court.
“You’ll be able to look at the stars and it’s going to show what happens during the solar eclipse,” said Lyons. “It will be very educational.”
East Hills is expecting to be very busy the entire weekend. When it comes to security, Lyons said the staff on board is prepared for anything that might come up.
“We have all hands on deck that day,” said Lyons. “All of our security will be here 24 hours.”
Throughout the eclipse weekend, the stores inside will offer discounts to anyone who shows their protective glasses.
“Employees throughout the mall have been working with their district managers and corporate offices to prepare and make sure everything goes on without a hitch,” Lyons said.
Originally, the center was going to sell 150 passes, but because the demand was so high, the number of spots has been extended to 365.
Lyons said she has even received calls from visitors outside the country, including a group of 150 from Israel.
“I’m excited to see all the visitors here in St. Joseph and see the economic impact it has on the city.”
Lyons believes the high traffic will spike a growth in sales.
The reserved spots will be in a designated area between Sears and Dillard’s. Vehicles are not allowed to camp overnight as the passes are only good for the day.
If drivers are interested in just shopping during the eclipse, there will be free parking available, but it is first-come, first-serve.
The mall will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Aug. 21. The stores will open as early as at 7 a.m.