Kelly Rife is shown on
the job at Letchworth
State Park. (Photo
provided by Kelly Rife.)

CASTILE — The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has been preparing for the April 8 total solar eclipse for more than a year to ensure visitors have a safe and enjoyable experience while visiting state parks to view the “once in a lifetime” event.

CSEA members are playing a key role in helping make it a success.

Kelly Rife, a CSEA member who works as a public affairs coordinator for the state Parks’ Genesee Region, said safety has been a top concern across the entire state parks system.

“We have been using models of previous eclipses as the basis to identify and address safety concerns,” said Rife.

For example, one event that served as a model for this year’s event was the solar eclipse in Nashville, Tenn. in 2017.

Rife noted that the state parks system has placed great effort in ensuring each park is prepared with enough resources, including food, water and portable bathroom facilities, for the high volume of people anticipated.

Rife noted there are capacity limits at state parks that have to be enforced. If the capacities are reached, the gates will be closed. She encouraged members of the public who may wish to visit a state park near them to view the eclipse to have a backup plan in case they cannot get in. She also indicated the potential for a high volume of visitors within the parks.

“Be prepared to wait in line no matter where you are, whether it’s getting into a park, finding a parking spot or visiting the restroom, it’s likely going to be a day of waiting and we encourage everyone to be patient,” said Rife.

At Letchworth State Park, staff have been preparing for the eclipse, including going so far as to scout the best possible locations for viewing specifically on April 8, 2023 – exactly one year before this year’s event – representing exactly where the sun will be in the sky.

“The best spot for viewing will be at the north end of the park in the High Banks Recreation Area, as determined by Letchworth park staff,” said Rife.

CSEA Genesee Parks Local President Brian Arnold, shown here on the job, is proud of our members’ dedication to state parks.

CSEA Genesee State Park Commission Local President Brian Arnold praised park staff.

“This has been a great combined effort among all our staff at Letchworth,” said Arnold. “Everyone is doing a great job to make this all come together as smoothly as possible for the public to enjoy.”

Rife said the state parks system has made every effort to think through all types of scenarios and details, including ensuring the lights do not come on during the event. Lights coming on could create light pollution that may interfere with the ability to view the eclipse.

“Everyone’s safety has been the number one priority,” said Rife.
All staff will be on hand that day and have been provided with proper eclipse viewing eyewear, as well as education and information they need for the event.

“We’re super excited for the eclipse here at Letchworth State Park,” said Rife. “We just want to make sure everyone is able to enjoy it safely.”

— Mathew L. Cantore


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