Visitors walk along a line painted through Makanda, Illinois, that represents the anticipated center point of the path of Monday's solar eclipse.
Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Illinois town taking center stage for eclipse

A small town in Illinois will be the focal point Monday when a total solar eclipse crosses North America for the first time in 99 years.

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In Makanda, located in the southern part of the state, the eclipse will be visible for more than two minutes, CBS News reported. Residents are approaching the event with a party atmosphere.

"I do feel lucky. How can you not feel lucky? This is a lucky event," Dave Dardis told CBS News.

The eclipse's path runs through Dardis’ art studio and shop in Makanda, and friends are jockeying for a spot to view the rare event. Dardis has drawn a line through his shop.

“They are wondering, ‘is there room in your backyard?’ If they're good friends I tell them bring your sleeping bag, there's room,” Dardis told CBS News.

The eclipse will start in Oregon and take less than two hours to reach South Carolina, racing across the country at an average speed of 1,500 mph. It will cover a swath roughly 70 miles wide, and as day turns to night, temperatures could drop as much as 25 degrees.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to pour into Makanda. Joe McFarland calls himself the town's unofficial eclipse coordinator.

"What it means is we're nervous, that we're going to have crowd control issues, traffic control issues. We're trying to prepare for that," McFarland told CBS News.

Tourists hoping to find a spot in Makanda are probably too late. Town organizers told CBS News that motels have been booked solid, and one room is fetching as much as $3,800.

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