Texas Goes Eclipse Crazy, North Texas is Ground Zero For The Fun  

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Officials Prepare For Total Solar Eclipse Events & Crowds

CEDAR HILL – Texas has gone eclipse crazy. Local cities, restaurants, and outdoor locations are taking full advantage of the big day.

A number of people I have talked to have been scratching their heads about all the hoopla surrounding the solar eclipse, with comments ranging from “Why is the National Guard being called in some areas?” to “Why are cities issuing disaster declarations in advance of the solar eclipse?”

According to the National Weather Service, “The most recent total solar eclipse within North or Central Texas was in 1878, and after this year’s eclipse, there won’t be another in our region until 2317. To say this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience would be understating its rarity.”

The real challenge for April 8’s big solar eclipse event is the mass of people. Totality will last from a few seconds to about 4.5 minutes, depending on where you are along the path. Only those in the path of totality will get the full eclipse experience.

The chatter and excitement about the upcoming solar eclipse have resulted in some challenges that cities are bracing for, including an influx of up to 250,000 visitors. This can result in fuel shortages, a lack of lodging and restaurants, and a general feeling of overwhelm due to the number of people migrating to the North Texas region.

Red Oak Police Chief Garland Wolf mentioned NCTCOG had talked about the potential of the above situations and further mentioned the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) had excellent information at their website https://tdem.texas.gov/eclipse with additional possible challenges in the region to include:

Traffic congestion/Choke Points

Vehicle Accidents/Stalled Motorists

Medical Emergencies


Access for emergency vehicles

Possible communication (cell) issues

Overwhelmed Emergency Call Centers

School closures or operational changes

Debris Management

Wildfires at State Parks/Natural Areas, along roads & highways

Civil Unrest

Most police chiefs in the area responded and said they are ready for April 8.

Cedar Hill Police Chief Ely Reyes said patrol staffing will be normal, with support units available to assist as needed. These support units will include one lieutenant; the city’s traffic unit with one sergeant and four officers; a Police and Community Team with one sergeant, one corporal, and three officers; and the Criminal Investigations Division with one sergeant, one corporal, and five detectives.

“We will have increased patrols in our large retail parking lots, hotels, and major thoroughfares,” Reyes added.

Local Eclipse Events

Cedar Hill will host a city event at Valley Ridge Park on April 8 from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. with food trucks and entertainment. Six officers will staff the event, and the Cedar Hill Fire Department will have one additional Medic Unit on duty on April 8 and the day before the eclipse on April 7.

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In Duncanville, Interim Police Chief Matt Stogner said that the city will have an eclipse party, a two-day event called Dark in the Park.  The two-day event will be held at Armstrong Park.  The first day will begin Sunday, April 7th, at 6 p.m. and end at 9 p.m.  There will be a live band, zipline, and other family activities.  On Monday, the day of the eclipse, the event will begin at noon and conclude at 3 p.m.  The City will hand out 2,500 eclipse glasses to those who need them on a first come basis.

As for security measures, Stogner said “The Police Department has worked diligently with other city departments to ensure this two-day event is enjoyable and safe for all that attend.”

To that end, the PD is taking steps to ensure the safety of all residents and guests who come to Duncanville for the eclipse with foot patrols at Armstrong Park and regular patrols within the City.

Lauren Sanchez, CEM, Regional Emergency Management Operations Coordinator serving Cedar Hill, DeSoto, Duncanville, and Lancaster said each city’s police and fire departments began planning weeks ago for the Solar Eclipse due to planned special events and the large amount of visitors each city is expecting.

“The first step in each city were meetings with public safety and other city departments to discuss the impacts of the event (like increased population, traffic, viewing areas, etc.),” Sanchez explained. “The second step was to discuss and plan the special events that each city is hosting. Each Police and Fire department across all four cities will be increasing its staffing most days leading up to the event and on April 8 in order to have enough manpower to handle normal city business/emergency calls during the eclipse with the increased visitor population as well as work the city events.  Lastly, all police and fire departments, as well as my emergency management team, will be monitoring the days leading up to the Eclipse and April 8 in case additional resources are needed.”

Sanchez also said that with any special event hosting a large number of people gathered, “we are worried about the normal types of issues like fights, crowd issues, etc.”

She said a unique concern about the eclipse is the serious traffic expected when it ends and visitors try to leave city events and the region at the same time.

“The National Guard has been called into states and cities that are expecting a large number of people but have few response resources if they run into issues,” Sanchez added. The National Guard will help increase manpower if a response of some kind is needed. Our area and DFW region are coordinating resources among themselves; I’m not aware of the Guard being called in here.”


Other solar eclipse parties in Best Southwest:

DeSoto: Parks will be open for public viewing and DeSoto Library is hosting an event

Lancaster: Partnering with Cedar Valley Campus for parking lot viewing on April 8.

Ellis County Expects Influx of Visitors

In Ellis County, Red Oak Police Department Lieutenant Jason Meeks said the city is working in coordinated efforts with all departments. The Red Oak Fire Rescue Department has also created an Incident Action Plan (IAP) for the event.

Meeks said the Red Oak Police Department will upstaff on April 8, with approximately 12 police personnel patrolling the city.

“Our EOC will be activated initially at a level 3 status,” Meeks added. “We are prepared for an influx of motorists and spectators for the event, but it’s hard to say exactly how many we will see in our city.”

Red Oak is not planning a formal event for the eclipse, but the city has designated the city parks as “eclipse watch areas” and are encouraging spectators to watch the eclipse from these designated areas and not to stop on roadways or business parking lots.

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The City of Midlothian will also be hosting an eclipse party “Total Eclipse Watch” on April 8 from noon to 3 p.m. at Midlothian Community Park. The public is invited to gather anywhere at the park and activities will take place at the great lawn, near the baseball fields. Food trucks and activities will be held, and officers will be present at the event.

“We anticipate traffic control as citizens leave the Park to be the most pressing issue, but we will respond to any situation that may require police services while we are there,”

Midlothian Assistant Police Chief Scott Brown said, “Our partners from Ellis County Emergency Management and the North Central Texas Council of Governments have told us that an influx of 200,000 – 250,000 people could come to Ellis County on Monday, April 8, to view the eclipse, as our county is considered one of the prime areas to view the complete eclipse.”

Ennis Is The Epicenter

Brown said the epicenter for viewing the “ring of fire” is in Ennis, but Midlothian is certainly anticipating its citizens will be out and about trying to experience the eclipse.

The Midlothian PD will also staff its Emergency Operations Center to monitor and support solar eclipse events as necessary.

“While we can’t reveal specific operational plans, I can share with you that we will have maximum staffing in our uniformed services units (Patrol, Traffic),” Brown said. “One of our biggest anticipated concerns for this group will be keeping the roadways clear, as some communities during past eclipses have reported motorists will simply pull over regardless of their location to view the eclipse. This is tremendously unsafe.”

Midlothian ISD is not in session that day, so the PD will be deploying its School Resource Officers to assist as needed.

“This is a welcome force multiplier,” Brown said. I anticipate the SROs will be used to help out in our parks and other open spaces that may attract crowds. We will also require our non-uniformed staff to be in uniform that day. This includes investigators, Training staff, and Administrative officers. They will work their normal jobs but will be ready for rapid deployment if need be.”

The North Ellis Emergency Dispatch Center will be prepared for alternative solutions if cellular communication becomes impacted.

“We are confident that our community will experience a safe and sound Eclipse Day,” Brown concluded. “We are prepared to do whatever we can to help make that happen. We ask that everyone be careful and, as always, be aware of your surroundings if you venture out on the roadways. And don’t stare into the sun.”