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'It's going to be crazy': Niagara Falls mayor says city preparing for up to 1 million visitors for solar eclipse

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The mayor of Niagara Falls says the city expects to attract the biggest crowd in its history on April 8 when upwards of a million visitors show up to watch the full solar eclipse.

Mayor Jim Diodati said the city has been buzzing with excitement ever since National Geographic declared Niagara Falls the best place in the world to view the celestial event.

“It’s going to be crazy… We are trying to prepare for the biggest event in the history of the city by far.”

“The biggest crowd we’ve ever had was 12 years ago with Nik Wallenda going across the falls. That day we had upwards of 150,000 people.”

He said some have estimated that the crowd for the eclipse will be eight or nine times that size.

“We are not really sure what to prepare for. We’ve got plan A,B,C,D and E. So whether the crowds are massive or not as big, road closures and all other plans depend on how the crowds are when they get here,” Diodati said.

“That day the weather, of course, will have a big impact on how many people arrive because we are within a days’ drive of half the population of North America. A lot of people can come here in a short period of time.”

He said the city has taken steps to boost internet service to accommodate the influx of visitors.

“When you’ve got hundreds of thousands of people trying to send pictures and texts at the same time, you can crash the system,” he noted. “We are preparing for everything so we hope to be fully ready.”

Demand for hotels and short-term rentals around that time have also skyrocketed in the city.

Travellers could spend upwards of $1,000 a night for a hotel room close to the falls the night before the eclipse.

“It’s unfortunate but it is dynamic pricing. And it happens everywhere in the world that you go,” Diodati said.

“It is frustrating for someone coming here that you understand that you would have paid a lot less for the week before or the week after but that’s just kind of the supply and demand model.”

He said visitors should also expect to pay more for things like parking as well.

“I’m not saying that it is right. That is just the way it is,” he added.

Diodati said there are ways for people to view the event without breaking the bank.

“Take the GO train down,” he said, adding that Metrolinx has promised to add more trains on the day of the eclipse. “But buy your tickets in advance.”

He said visitors should also come prepared with everything they need, including food, water, and glasses for viewing the eclipse.

“Bring everything with you. Don’t assume you can buy things here,” he said.

Diodati said given the volume of people that are expected in the city, restaurants “will be packed” and the best way to get around will likely be on foot.

“It is going to be a cool experience,” he said.

“I think everybody is going to say, ‘Where were you during the full solar eclipse?’ This will be your chance to have a good story to tell your kids.” 

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