Hundreds turn out for NASA events at school, wildfire doesn't stop Kah-Nee-Ta tourists.

PHOTO BY ANTHONY ANDERSON - Students get ready to launch a high-altitude balloon from the Warm Springs school football field.The Warm Springs community enjoyed hosted many tourists and enjoyed educational opportunities during the recent solar eclipse.

Carol Leone, director of the Museum at Warm Springs, said they had special activities Saturday through Monday, with vendors of food and jewelry, and demonstrations on tribal dances, beadwork and basketry.

"We had a really good turnout and it was really fun. We had visitors from Russia, China, New Zealand, Australia, and the museum got a great review on Trip Advisor," Leone said.

At Kah-Nee-Ta Lodge, which was threatened by a wildfire prior to the eclipse, Cruz Bocanegra, group sales manager, said he had a group of 239 Japanese tourists who had booked the lodge to watch the eclipse.

"The wildfire went through quickly and at night, before the group came in," he said.

The day of the eclipse, he said it was nice and clear. "They watched the eclipse from the salmon bake area, the lodge parking lot, and quite a few from their balconies," he said, noting Kah-Nee-Ta was in the path of totality.

Traffic backed up after the eclipse, but Bocanegra said the Japanese group was lucky. "They left right after on eight different charter buses, and went on a road people thought was closed to The Dalles and over to Portland," he said.

"That night, we had quite a few people stay here who got stuck on Highway 26. One lady said she had traveled five hours from Culver," he said.

Both NASA and the University of Washington held events at Warm Springs K-8 Academy.

Carlos Chavez, with the University of Washington, said on Sunday, they set up stations for students and community members, with hands-on activities for kids to encourage them to get interested in science. Around 600 people participated.

In the school gym, there was a planetarium from the Museum of Flight in Seattle, and a Lego robotics challenge, where kids could create a Mars rover. Outside on the football field, solar telescopes were set up, along with stations on sun spots and the solar system, and kids had the chance to talk with astronomers. That night, a stargazing station was set up for the public.

On eclipse day, students from Northwest tribes, including Warm Springs, Coeur d'Alene, Nez Perce, Shoshone Bannock, Yakama Nation, along with Native Girls Code and ALTV, participated in a high-altitude balloon launch from the school.

Tribal team members were asked to bring a cultural artifact to launch with their balloon. Around 800 people attended the Aug. 21 event.

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