Chautauqua County To Buy 66,000 Eclipse Glasses

Pictured are members of the Chautauqua County Legislature. P-J photo by Gregory Bacon

MAYVILLE – Chautauqua County is moving ahead preparing for the total eclipse next year.

During the county Legislature meeting, officials agreed to spend $50,000 to purchase branded solar eclipse glasses for the eclipse, which takes place April 8. The money is coming from the county’s 3% occupancy tax reserves.

The resolution was not discussed during the full legislature meeting, but during committee meetings beforehand, Economic Development Coordinator Nate Aldrich said the glasses are for both safety and publicity.

“We’re expecting, there’s no way to actually know, but tens of thousands, if not over 100,000 visitors to the county next year,” he said.

The glasses will be cardboard. They’re still being designed, but are expected to have the county seal on it and possibly the letters “CHQ.” They would be given away at various places throughout the county.

Stephanie Nick, special projects coordinator with the county, said Niagara and Erie counties have made similar purchases. Chautauqua County is looking to purchase about 66,000 glasses. The exact amount will be determined after the bids are received.

Aldrich said they’ll be working with the county Chamber and Visitors Bureau to develop a distribution plan.

He also added that tourists from the eclipse will generate additional sales and occupancy tax revenue.

Much of the discussion locally regarding the solar eclipse has been on public safety. Legislature Chairman Pierre Chagnon, R-Ellery, said it’s likely the county airports, state parks and other places could be key gathering places.

“If an emergency happens at that event and the roads are blocked, how do emergency services get there? How does law enforcement get there,” he asked.

Because of these questions, the county’s Emergency Services Department has been meeting regularly to explore potential issues. “It’s an enormous challenge and it’s an enormous opportunity for the county, all at once,” Chagnon said.

Nick said the county has been marketing the eclipse in Cleveland, Ontario, Canada, and Pennsylvania – places within a day’s drive, inviting visitors to check out the eclipse in Chautauqua County.

Legislator Terry Niebel, R-Sheridan, said he thinks most people who visit the county will already have glasses before they arrive; however, he agreed that if they have the county’s name on them, visitors may want them as a memory.

The resolution was unanimously approved by the full county Legislature.


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