Call it eclipse economics.
When a large swath of America is bathed in midday darkness for a couple of minutes on Aug. 21, hundreds of cities in the path of the eclipse are hoping it will be a once-in-a-generation boost to local economies.
Or it could be a dud, and a costly one at that. Planners admit they are basically in the dark about how much the eclipse might help or hurt.
While much of the continental United States will enjoy at least partial darkness on eclipse day, only a 70-mile-wide strip will be in the critical "zone of totality," where the blackout will be complete. Coast to coast, cities in the zone are bracing for a huge influx of visitors.
In Casper, Wyoming, construction workers are racing to complete a new town square that will be the centerpiece of a weeklong eclipse festival.
In Hopkinsville, Kentucky, which city planners have dubbed "Eclipseville," they have rebuilt sidewalks and repainted the town clock. Meanwhile, in Columbia, Missouri, University of Missouri astronomy professor Angela Speck warns that the state's collection of portable toilets will have to be moved into town from the state fairgrounds 70 miles away. The fair ends the night before the eclipse.