Salem Eclipse Campers Show Hospitality In Bush’s Pasture Park
According to 47% of adult campers, it’s the joy of camping itself that’s the biggest motivator to pitch up a tent in the great outdoors and enjoy a hot s’more around the fire.
However, citizens of Salem, Oregon didn’t quite share that joy when the city opened its parks to campers for the August 21, 2017, eclipse.
“Over the years, we’ve literally had people pee in our fence,” said Claudia Howells to the Statesman Journal. “And we’re not alone.”
Howells, who’s lived near Bush’s Pasture Park since 1984, was just one of the many Salemers concerned over the use of bathrooms in the park. Citizens were also concerned over general respect for the park and surrounding area.
“I was very negative about it,” Irene Longaker, who’s lived across from the Park for 41 years, said to the Journal.
However, after the eclipse, the campers proved to be gracious about their temporary stay in the park.
The City of Salem provided campers with port-o-potties for bathroom facilities, made signs for proper disposal of garbage, and limited traffic by prohibiting RVs and other vehicles from parking on the grass. According to USA Today, tailgating and fire pits were also forbidden.
Bush’s Pasture Park horticulturist, Tom Beatty, said approximately 1,500 to 2,000 visitors camped in the park the day before the eclipse. The campers were courteous and for the most part cleaned up after themselves. Even Jeff Schumacher, the chair of the South Central Association of Neighbors, who was initially apprehensive of the Salem campers and critical of the free event, was happy to find people enjoying the park responsibly on Sunday night.
Schumacher told the Statesman Journal that the city should be urging visitors to use their hotels and RV parks in order to increase revenue and feed the local economy. However, Salem officials had chosen not to charge for camping in Bush’s Pasture Park in order to provide better crowd control in the morning when the eclipse would bring about larger crowds.
Longaker approved of the parameters set forth by the city. “I’m about to write the city and say they couldn’t have done a better job.”