Celebration allows attendees to see the light

Local eye doctor celebrates 20 years in the Valley with refreshments and eclipse viewing glasses

Fred McCormick

On Wednesday, July 26, Dr. Christina Smith will host visitors to help her celebrate 20 years of practicing in Black Mountain.

But instead of accepting gifts as recognition for the milestone, the optometrist will be passing out presents instead. Smith will be offering free glasses that can be used to view the solar eclipse that will be visible throughout Western North Carolina on Monday, Aug. 21.

Dr. Christina Smith will be handing out these eclipse glasses at her customer appreciation day.

The path of totality for the eclipse will stretch from the Pacific Northwest to the Atlantic coast in of the U.S., just missing the Swannanoa Valley.

“Because Black Mountain is not in the path of totality, it’s important that people use glasses to view it at all times,” Smith said. “You can’t just use regular sunglasses. You have to use these specially made eclipse glasses.”

Smith and Black Mountain Realtor Dawn Wilson purchased 1,000 pairs of the paper glasses with both businesses’ logos featured on each pair. Smith will pass out 500 of them at her anniversary party.

“From 5-7 p.m. here at the office, we’ll have light snacks and beverages so people can come celebrate with us,” Smith said. “We’ll be passing out glasses to thank the community for supporting us.”

Smith opened her practice in 1997 alongside A Better View Family Eye Care, an optical shop. Owner Kathy Milam will be on hand during the celebration to greet visitors at her business.

“Our first location was across town in the strip mall that the Tractor Supply Co. is in,” Smith said. “We moved together to our current location nine years ago.”

Smith’s office isn’t the only in Black Mountain where eclipse glasses can be found. Wilson is selling hers, with proceeds going to the Black Mountain Center for the Arts.

“(With) all of the marketing I do, I try to make sure the money I spend not only benefits my company but also a nonprofit,” she said.

The upcoming event will be the sixth solar eclipse Wilson has witnessed in person, she said. The first, in Montana in 1979, left quite an impression.

“A solar eclipse is really the most cool thing the sky does,” she said.

Wilson has traveled around the world to view eclipses since seeing her first. She was on a cruise in 1998 for her most memorable one.

“They parked the cruise ship on the center line of the path of totality,” she recalled. “They turned off the engines and we drifted all day next to Montserrat, the volcano, which was erupting and leaving ash on the ship. Once the sun was completely obscured there were whales jumping, and since we were in the middle of the ocean, there was a 360-degree sunset.”

In August, Wilson will attend a small gathering on a farm that is in the path of totality for the upcoming eclipse.

“It’s only two minutes of totality, which isn’t that long,” she said. “But it’s something you never forget.”

Celebrate with Dr. Christina Smith

Optometrist Christina Smith and Kathy Milam of A Better View Family Eye Care are hosting a patient appreciation open house event from 5-7 p.m.July 26 at the Lakey Creek Health Center, 15 Jane Jacobs Road, Black Mountain.