Kay Whitley, Office Coordinator of Sumner County Tourism (SCT), was first to greet and welcome Donald Young upon his arrival at Triple Creek Park in Gallatin, Tennessee, Sunday, August 20, the day before the Gallatin TN Eclipse Encounter. Many visitors were interested in catching a glimpse and getting to know the 185-acre park where they would be viewing the eclipse the following day. Donald and a friend scouted the entire Triple Creek Park event area to find the best, most comfortable spot for his wife, Ling Young. Donald explained that his wife can’t get overheated and was curious about the crowd size and specifics of the event.
Donald’s enthusiasm about the eclipse and the attention he gave to every detail for his wife was endearing and impacted the SCT staff and volunteer Lacie Robertson in a very positive way. “My wife Ling is a 9/11 inferno survivor and I brought her here last minute to enjoy the eclipse and experience as this time of year is tough,” Young said. Robertson not only volunteered her time to assist with the Eclipse Encounter, but also made sure the Youngs’ needs were met. She even picked them up from the Gallatin Civic Center, which at best was a long walk from Triple Creek Park, and encouraged them to use the volunteer center pavilion in the park as their spot. Lacie really stepped in where other staff could not during this huge event that was attended by thousands of visitors.
Donald and Ling, along with three others, made the trip from New Jersey to view the Total Eclipse of the Sun with them. Two of them drove down as boyfriend and girlfriend and left Sumner County, Tennessee as an engaged couple as of totality at 1:27 p.m., August 21, 2017. Ling Young was very happy to see that. What really mattered is that Ling was happy. She was on the 78th floor of the second tower on 9/11 and she is an Inferno survivor. She showed us her scarred arms and those deep scars of surviving such an event still remain in her mind and heart. Ling Young’s grace, courage and wit are truly inspiring and her impression that she and her group made on us is a lasting one. The Total Eclipse of 2017 on a clear day in Gallatin, Tennessee, was a day we all can remember for the obvious reason, but our world with 38 countries and 40 states represented at The Gallatin TN Eclipse Encounter came together and was centered with peace. It is the Convention and Visitors Bureau’s wish that Ling Young will have peace this time of year and anytime she travels.
Trip Manager Warren Green and Astronomer Bill Andrews with TravelQuest International were also among the flocks that had to see Triple Creek firsthand before the main event. You see, Gallatin was on the center line of the path of the eclipse, so totality at Triple Creek could be viewed for two minutes forty seconds.
To acquaint you with TravelQuest International for a moment, here’s a little background information. TravelQuest President Aram Kaprielian grew up within the travel industry and has visited all seven continents. Aram and Paul Swart, a master of logistical planning who has led ten previous TravelQuest eclipse trips, first contacted the Sumner County Convention & Visitors Bureau in October 2014. TravelQuest then toured Sumner County to select the best viewing location for their America’s Music Cities Total Solar Eclipse Tour.
The resident “space guru,” Bill Andrews, is an associate editor of “Discover” magazine and has worked as an editor at “Astronomy” magazine. Warren Green’s first eclipse trip with TravelQuest was in 2012 in the South Pacific and he joined them again in Svalbard in 2015. Just one hour after The Gallatin TN Eclipse Encounter ended, Bill Andrews let the SCT staff know “that everything went perfectly” on our end! “Congratulations on a great event, and thanks again for all your help,” Green said.
The Sumner County Tourism is so glad thousands of visitors from all over the world gathered here for such a spectacular cosmic event. It made our world seem just a little smaller as new friends were made from around the world on that day, August 21, 2017. It is our hope that our recent visitors and new friends will return to any of our scenic cities in this great area of Sumner County, Tennessee, in the future.