Carter County offering several eclipse viewing festivities

John Thompson • Updated Aug 8, 2017 at 8:28 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The Tri-Cities region won’t be in the portion of Tennessee that will see a total eclipse of the sun, but there will still be plenty of places to watch the partial eclipse with friends.

Carter County Tourism reports there will be at least five solar eclipse events and parties planned in Carter County. While none can provide a compete covering of the sun by the moon, there will be plenty of unique ways to enjoy the event, including watching it on Watauga Lake.

Roan Mountain State Park will beat the sun. On Sunday, Aug. 13, interpretive rangers will provide lectures about the upcoming eclipse. The program will start at 11:30 a.m. at the camp store.

The Elizabethton Twins and the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library are also getting a head start on the eclipse with “Solar Eclipse of the Park Night.” The library staff will be passing out solar viewing glasses on the day before the eclipse.

One of the more unique places for a viewing party will be on Watauga Lake. Boots Off Campground and Hostel, 142 Shook Branch Road, is organizing the party. Those who attend can watch the eclipse and have some fun paddling on Watauga Lake, followed by great food, good company and topped off with a large bonfire.

“The plan is for everyone to meet up at Boots Off by 10 a.m., Aug. 21, to organize and meet one another, then we leave to launch at Rat Branch Boat Ramp and be on the water no later than noon,” said Jim Gregory, Boots Off owner. “This will allow ourselves time to paddle out and get a good spot on the lake, maybe to one of the islands, which will provide us with some of the best viewing of the eclipse. The eclipse in our area will start just after 1 p.m. Plan to be on the water during the entire event, which will take approximately 3 hours.”

Anyone is welcome to join the group. Equipment rental is $30 per person, which includes transporting the paddlecraft to and from Rat Branch Boat Ramp. The fee includes all necessary safety equipment for the water, and eclipse viewing glasses at no additional charge.

The group will return to Boots Off after the eclipse for some food and fun. Guests can stay in the bunkhouse that sleeps eight people, a tiny cabin with room for four people or stay the night in the campground. Call or text 239-218-3904 for more information and to book an overnight stay.

The eclipse will be celebrated at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park from noon to 4 p.m. with special programs and activities. The maximum eclipse point will be at 2:37 p.m. Solar viewing glasses will be given to the first 125 people who arrive.

Carter County Drug Prevention and the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library will be hosting a viewing party at Kiwanis Park. The event is free and there will be plenty of games, snacks and activities.

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