Four Quirky Events I’m Excited About in 2024

2024. One year means 366 opportunities.


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Several events will make 2024 memorable but I’m looking forward to the quirky, fun stuff. Sure, this year will see the Summer Olympics and Presidential Election, but I’m excited about Leap Day, a solar eclipse, an epic cicada emergence, and Smoky Bear’s 80th birthday!

After a few icky years (COVID and Hurricane Ian), 2023 wasn’t so bad and I’m looking forward to an even better 2024. Last year was my emergence into my pre-COVID world with several adventures, like swimming with bull sharks, glamping with goats, and feeding a rhino. Looking ahead to 2024, the following four events have me jazzed for a fun, memorable year.

2024 is a Leap Year!
2024 is a Leap Year! Image credit: Canva.com

Four Quirky Events I’m Excited About in 2024

2024 is a Leap Year!

It’s always fascinated me that February is the shortest month of the year with 28 days, yet it’s a pretty significant month. It hosts Groundhog, Valentine’s and President’s Day; Black History Month and oftentimes Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday.

We’re blessed with 29 days in February this year, to even out the calendar through math. It takes Earth 365.2422 days, not 365, to orbit the sun. So, ALMOST every four years, an extra day – Leap Day – is added to the calendar so we don’t lose significant hours each year.

The exception to Leap Year is when the year is not divisible by 100 unless it’s also divisible by 400. So, 2024 is leap year because it’s divisible by four but not divisible by 100. The year 2100 is not a leap year because it’s divisible by four and 100, but not 400. Got it?

2024. One year means 366 opportunities.
2024. One year means 366 opportunities.

Why Am I Excited About Leap Year?

Granted, an extra day in the year can easily mean something whackadoo can occur. But, I’m optimistic and thinking positive things will happen on Leap Day. February 29 is an extra day to get something done (Taxes? Chores?) or do something memorable (Do something you’ve been afraid of doing!) or meaningful (Donate blood.)

I’m not sure what I’ll do to mark Leap Day but I’ll make it memorable. It’s a workday, so there’s that.

Me Viewing the Solar Eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017, and Did Live Reporting for WKDW 97.5 FM, North Port. This Was at the James & Barbara Moore Observatory at Florida South Western State College.
Me Viewing the Solar Eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017, and Did Live Reporting for WKDW 97.5 FM, North Port. This Was at the James & Barbara Moore Observatory at Florida South Western State College.

Total Solar Eclipse on April 8

It’s been 99 years since Buffalo, N.Y., witnessed a total solar eclipse. The next one will happen on Monday, April 8, when the Great North American Eclipse crosses 13 U.S. states. After this one, the next solar eclipse the U.S. will happen in 2045!

On Aug. 21, 2017, I witnessed a partial shadow of the Great American Eclipse as it rolled across the country, however, I was in Florida so I witnessed a partial eclipse. Still, it was a fun afternoon at the James & Barbara Moore Observatory at Florida Southwestern State College Punta Gorda Campus, as students and adults made solar eclipse viewers from cereal boxes and learned about the solar system.
Will the Great North American Eclipse be visible in Florida? Well, not exactly. Like the 2017 eclipse, Florida will see a partial eclipse.

Viewing the 2017 Solar Eclipse Through this Pinhole Projector, Punta Gorda, Fla.
Viewing the 2017 Solar Eclipse Through this Pinhole Projector, Punta Gorda, Fla.

Why Am I Excited about the Great North American Eclipse of 2024?

For more than six years, I have planned on returning to my hometown for this historic event. I’ll either view it from my parents’ backyard or sister and brother-in-law’s spacious yard. My mom purchased eclipse glasses more than a year ago. It’s also an opportunity to celebrate family milestone birthdays.

In sum, the clan is ready! I only hope Mother Nature cooperates and grants us clear skies.

A Brood X Cicada in North Georgia, May 2021
A Brood X Cicada in North Georgia, May 2021

Will You Hear What I Hear? An Epic Cicada Emergence!

In 2021, I set out to find fireflies and the Brood X cicadas in the Smokies. I carefully watched the Cicada Safari map to see where the shrimp of the land emerged and mapped out my trip (yes, cicadas are edible). Finding Blue Ghost Fireflies and synchronous fireflies was a bust, but I found the 17-year cicadas in a friend’s backyard in Blairsville, Ga.!

That's me with a cicada on my nose from the Brood X emergence in 2021.
That’s me with a cicada on my nose from the Brood X emergence in 2021.

Why Am I Excited About This 2024 Cicadas?

BILLIONS of cicadas will emerge in the late April to early May timeframe. The last time this happened was 221 years ago in 1803. The next time Broods XIX and XIII simultaneously emerge will be 2245. Brood XIX is on a 13-year emergence cycle in the Southeast. Brood XIII emerges every 17 years primarily in Northern Illinois.

These insects are fascinating because of their long lifecycle. After hatching, the nymphs live underground munching on roots before emerging either after 13 or 17 years. Cicadas are notable for their loud singing for mating purposes and with millions and billions expected to emerge this spring, things are going to get loud! Florida is excluded from cicada emergence but I plan to travel up to Georgia and get my cicada symphony fix.

Members of the USDA Forest Service Accept a Proclamation Recognizing Smokey Bear's 75th Birthday from Charlotte County Commissioner Bill Truex During a Charlotte County Commission Meeting, July 23, 2019, Port Charlotte, Fla.
Members of the USDA Forest Service Accept a Proclamation Recognizing Smokey Bear’s 75th Birthday from Charlotte County Commissioner Bill Truex During a Charlotte County Commission Meeting, July 23, 2019, Port Charlotte, Fla.

Smokey Bear Turns 80!

Smokey Bear is an American icon. Since the 1940s, he’s been the face of the USDA Forest Service and reminding us, “Only you can prevent forest fires.” The furry legend is celebrating 80 years of preventing wildfires. Festivities began Jan. 11 during the Tournament of Roses Parade with celebrations happening throughout the year.

Donning One of My Favorite T-shirts Which Features Smokey Bear.
Donning One of My Favorite T-shirts Which Features Smokey Bear.

Why Am I Excited About Smokey’s 80th?

When I was a kid, a neighbor was a conservation officer. In the 1970s, he gifted me a poster of Smokey and some of this forest friends with the headline, “Remember: there are babes in the woods.”

That poster lived on the wall of my childhood bedroom and traveled with me throughout the country from New York to California and finally in Florida where it now hangs. Seeing it is a nostalgic reminder of my childhood, my family, and my neighbors. It’s also a reminder that humans are guests in Mother Nature’s – and Smokey’s – home and needs to be treated with respect. Each time I step into the woods, I think of that poster and message.

Celebrating Smokey’s entry into octogenarian-hood is an honor and opportunity to pass down the Forest Service’s important message to the next generation.

Sidebar: I’ve curated some fun Smokey Bear finds in Amazon; hope you enjoy them!

2024 Will Be an Exceptional Year!

I have a good feeling about 2024. In addition to the above events, I have some other activities planned and can’t wait to share. What are you looking forward to in 2024?

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Solo Travel Girl

Jennifer A. Huber is the voice behind Solo Travel Girl. She's an award-winning travel and outdoor blogger and writer in Southwest Florida. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led her to a career path in the tourism industry for more than 30 years. She spent a decade with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley, and Everglades National Parks. She founded the travel blog, SoloTravelGirl.com with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely. Jennifer holds a Travel Marketing Professional certification from the Southeast Tourism Society, is a certified food judge, member of the NASA Social community, and alum of the FBI Citizens Academy. In 2023, she was a finalist in AARP's Benefits Badass competition. When not traveling, she is either in the kitchen, practicing her photography skills, or road tripping with her dog, Radcliff.

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