So, I’m not sure if people in Southern Illinois know this, but there’s an eclipse coming Monday. Additionally, this little event called SIU Move-In weekend, well, week started Wednesday in an attempt to clear the streets in time for tens of thousands of people to infiltrate our university community.
As the region braces for the one of the largest events it has ever seen, let’s not forget that Carbondale will be front and center for the entire world. The city of Carbondale has been making improvements around the downtown area to present a good face for visitors. Let’s do our part as residents to be a friendly and welcoming community to those coming to see this once-in-a-lifetime event — or twice-in-seven-years event in this case.
Remember, we get to do this again in seven years if this goes well in Carbondale or not. Science doesn’t care if we are prepared for such an event. So, let’s keep our cool this weekend. Remember to take a few deep breaths. Carbondale needs this to go well. There are already plenty of things working against us — the size of the city, potential gridlocks on the roads, cell tower service potentially going down and anything else that we and other officials probably haven’t thought of.
If you haven’t been to the grocery store yet, go now. Carbondale’s population could triple in size in as little as 48 hours. Fill up on gas as soon as possible. Give yourself more than extra time to get places because traffic will be slow. If you’re attending Shadowfest in downtown Carbondale, understand lines could be long to get drinks. The streets will be crowded. If planning to eat out, understand there could be an hour wait before you get seated or more. The businesses have been preparing for this event, but preparation only does so much for things like this.
While you are standing in line, enjoying a beverage, or watching one of the many musical acts in downtown Carbondale this weekend, say hello to that stranger next to you. Ask them where they are from. Give them advice on how to enjoy Carbondale and Southern Illinois, and what makes this place so special. Maybe they won’t be able to enjoy everything this place can offer during this busy weekend, but what if your conversation caused them to do research on their own and come back for a weekend. That could be doing your part of help the city and region.
It’s going to be hot, too. It’s August in Carbondale, after all. Remember to drink plenty of water. But most of all, enjoy this weekend. Don’t be scared away by the people. It’s easy to say Carbondale will get this back in seven years, but understand the rarity of what is happening and soak it all in. Whether it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event, or a twice-in-seven-years event, let’s be the best Carbondale we can be and that starts with each and every resident.