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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Total Solar Eclipse draws thousands to southern-end of the County




by Sylene Argent, Local Journalism Initiative

All eyes were fixed to the sky for the Total Solar Eclipse on Monday afternoon, and the clear and bright weather offered a spectacular viewing opportunity of the rare natural phenomenon.

  Several events were hosted throughout the region in anticipation of the area falling within the Path of Totality, offering the best viewing of the celestial event, including at the Colchester Harbour and the John R. Park Homestead in Essex, the Grovedale Arts & Culture center in Kingsville, and at Point Pelee in Leamington.

  At the Colchester Harbour, residents and out-of-town visitors lined the waterfront in anticipation of the event that took a few hours to fully complete. The Essex-based event was hosted by the Town’s Arts, Culture, and Tourism (Act) Committee, whose members were pleased to ask the Windsor Chapter of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada to be on site with telescopes.

  Not only were visitors treated to possibly getting a chance to look through the telescopes, which were fitted with a filter for safety, they were also provided information about the total solar eclipse from the knowledgeable members.

  Grant Maguire is a member of the ACT Committee and the local Royal Astronomical Society of Canada group. He was pleased to meet with event attendees and share his love of the cosmos. 

  What was especially neat, Maguire said, was allowing youths a chance to get acquainted with the hobby and perhaps spark an interest in science. For some, this was their first time looking through a telescope, but he was sure it wouldn't be the last for those who quickly took interest in astronomy.

  Maguire noted that this will be the last Total Solar Eclipse he will see in his lifetime. The excitement could be felt throughout the Harbour by everyone in attendance, as they anticipated the twilight-like darkness to descend and the temperatures to drop as the moon moved across the sky and covered the sun.

  He said those in the astronomy club have been itching with excitement ever since they learned about this a year ago.

  Cynthia Cakebread, Manager of Recreation and Culture for the Town of Essex, was pleased with the turnout down at the Colchester Harbour and to be able to have a partnership with the local astronomy club.

  The ACT Committee and the Windsor Chapter of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada partnered last year to host wildly successful sidewalk astronomy events throughout the municipality last Summer. When the Town learned of the Total Solar Eclipse, there was a desire to extend the invite to the local stargazing club to hold a similar public engagement activity for the rare event.

  Maguire noted that members of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada group were also stationed at Point Pelee, offering information about astronomy and Total Solar Eclipses. Getting involved was great way  for the Windsor Chapter of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, to engage the public and potentially draw in a few new members who may take up the hobby.

  Down the road, at the Grovedale Arts & Culture Centre and Mettawas Park, many attended activities the Town of Kingsville hosted. That included live music, live artist painting, Kingsville Horticultural Society’s kids craft area, and a reading circle Deputy Mayor Kim DeYong and Councillor Sheri Lowrie participated in that was hosted by DeYong’s daughter, Lauren. In addition, the 2nd Kingsville Scouts sold hot dogs for an upcoming jamboree.

  DeYong estimated 300 gathered at Mettawas Park, with other large gatherings taking place along the waterfront.

  She said the event brought a lot of people to town. Just talking to people who went to the event, DeYong noticed the total solar eclipse was a real tourist draw, with visitors from the city and as far as Brampton.

  It was a great idea for the Town to host an event, she said, adding an extra layer of excitement was a countdown to the eclipse that triggered collective “oohs and awes.”

  “It was great to experience with other people.”

  Essex County OPP Media Relations Officer Steven Duguay commented that things went very well in terms of the events and having additional visitors to the area. He said it was great to see so many people out and all in good spirits. 

  “The positivity from everyone was infectious.  We met people that traveled from Florida and Calgary just for the Eclipse,” he said.

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