PICKENS COUNTY — The Great Eclipse is now only a couple of days away and state officials are expecting thousands of out-of-towners to flock to those areas within the path of totality.
In that regard, Pickens County residents are lucky — we don’t have to travel anywhere — we can watch it from home. However, if you’re more of the mind set to attend one of the many viewing parties and gatherings being put on throughout the Upstate, you’ve got some options.
For the nature lovers out there, Table Rock State Park is inviting visitors to watch the eclipse on the shores of Lake Oolenoy.
At 11 a.m. an arts and crafts table will be set up where visitors can make their own pinhole cameras, lunar phases flip books, solar eclipse ornaments and paracord bracelets that react to the sun.
The park will also have a program at 1 p.m. explaining all the hows and whys behind the event.
Eclipse glasses and T-shirts will be for sale in the visitor center and the park will have roving interpretation programs from 1:30 p.m. through the eclipse totality at 2:38 p.m. about how to safely watch.
The beach and concessions will be open beginning at 10:00 am as an additional viewing area and visitors are permitted to bring their own beach chairs and blankets to spend the day, although no swimming will be permitted.
Don’t feel like sitting on the beach? Well, Table Rock is also renting boats for $10 per hour to take out on the lake to view the eclipse. Or if you’re feeling particularly ambitious, a ranger will be departing the nature center at 10 a.m. to hike to the top of Table Rock.
The nature center will open at 8 a.m. to register hikers, give information about the best eclipse viewing locations along the trails.
Table Rock State Park is at 158 Ellison Lane in Pickens.
Clemson University is another option to consider. The school is hosting a (mostly) free event on Monday featuring a whole host of speakers, music, hands-on demonstrations, food and drink.
The event is family-friendly and the University has 50,000 pairs of eclipse glasses they will be handing out for free for as long as they last.
Some “selected” parking areas are charging a fee as are the food and beverage vendors.
“Eclipse over Clemson” in running until the solar event ends that afternoon, at 4:02 p.m. and is being held on the South campus green outside the Watt Family Innovation Center.
If you’d rather avoid Highway 123, another option to think about is Southern Wesleyan University.
The university partnered up with the County to become the defacto place in the area to watch and gates are opening at noon.
Live music, scientific experts and activities for kids are on the agenda for the afternoon along with free eclipse glasses for the first 6,500 people to check in.
Food vendors will be on site and there will also be a live feed on the track scoreboard for safe viewing for small kids.
Visitors can bring their own chairs and blankets and tents are permitted as long as you set it up outside the track fencing.
The event is being held at the Gilbert Track and Field Complex at 215 Clayton Street in Central.
The Pickens County Library System is also hosting viewing parties at every branch with trivia for adults and coloring pages for the little ones.
The various branches have been stocked with eclipse glasses that they will distribute to guests beginning at 1 p.m. until they run out.
As far as finding the glasses …
Besides the earlier mentioned events, a concrete listing of stores carrying the safety glasses has been tricky to come by simply because when a place gets them, they tend to sell out. Fast.
For example, Easley City Hall was carrying them — and ran out within an hour.
A few gas stations in the area have been stocking them but again, they go fast. Your best bet (if you don’t have them yet) is to attend an event offering free ones and be early enough to improve your chances of snagging a pair before they run out.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.