WATCH | Visit Hot Springs Marketing Director says city, county emergency services ready for total solar eclipse

Visit Hot Springs Marketing Director Bill Solleder discusses the April 8 total solar eclipse at the Hot Springs National Park Rotary meeting Wednesday at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hot Springs Hotel. (The Sentinel-Record/Lance Brownfield)
Visit Hot Springs Marketing Director Bill Solleder discusses the April 8 total solar eclipse at the Hot Springs National Park Rotary meeting Wednesday at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hot Springs Hotel. (The Sentinel-Record/Lance Brownfield)


Visit Hot Springs Marketing Director Bill Solleder praised the work of local emergency services to prepare for the April 8 total solar eclipse during Wednesday's Hot Springs National Park Rotary Club Club meeting.

Solleder said emergency services have been working "for years" to prepare for the celestial event.

"We are so fortunate -- I can't say this enough -- to have our Hot Springs Police Department, fire department, LifeNet and county emergency (services)," he said.

"That whole team has been meeting for years, going over every single thing that could possibly go wrong -- or go right -- preparing for what could happen. Doing quadrants of the city, making sure that if something happens on the north side of town that emergency services can get to it and back."

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While there will be more people in town than usual, Solleder said the organizations are used to planning for events like the World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade or big races at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort.

"They're so good at it," he said. "They move around people for St. Patrick's Day parade, they move around people for Oaklawn all the time. They're really good at it. We're in good hands. Just leave it to them. They have a plan, and they continue to plan and will plan straight up to the event."

[Check out all of our eclipse coverage here]

Solleder said there are plenty of events to help encourage people to visit Hot Springs for the eclipse -- from the special Bridge Street LIVE event on April 4 to events at Ron Coleman Mining, Mill Creek Music Farm, Cedar Glades Park, Majestic Park, Garvan Woodland Gardens, Oaklawn and Mid-America Science Museum.

The Bridge Street LIVE event will also feature presentations from NASA scientists.

"NASA is coming to Hot Springs. On Thursday at Bridge Street LIVE, NASA will present for free three times -- 6 o'clock, 7 o'clock and 8 o'clock -- at Bridge Street LIVE. We're having a special tent farther away from the stage so you can hear them. They're sending 12 scientists to Hot Springs National Park. ... Then they'll be presenting all around the community at free events, just talking about things like the eclipse," he said.

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"What they really want to study while they're here is the sound of (the) eclipse and what happens when it gets dark and what do the animals do and the whole sound of the celestial event, specifically the long-eared bat which apparently we have here in Hot Springs."

While many online booking websites say there are no rooms available for the weekend of the eclipse, Solleder said that is not true.

"The hotels are booking, but we're not fully booked just yet," he said. "And here's the quick problem, what's happening. If you go onto booking.com or a site or the hotel site and just tried to book for Sunday, Monday, it'll say, 'No rooms available.' Everywhere you look; everywhere you look, except for Oaklawn who does a really great job.

"The problem is that all the hotels have a minimum stay -- three nights, four nights, five nights -- but the message, the automatic message that the booking platform sends to you says that we have no rooms available," he said.

"So it seems like we're sold out, but we're not sold out. So if you have friends or family coming in, tell them to call the hotels. Chances are they'll give you a good deal with maybe a shorter stay."


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