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Tin Foil, T Shirts, and Totality: 2017 Solar Eclipse

Safyre Yearling, Editor-in-Chief

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Welcome sign outside of local business, Roller Hardware.

Following the 1979 total solar eclipse, an ABC news anchor was quoted, “May the shadow of the moon fall on a world at peace.”

2017 has unarguably been a year of conflict, not only in our country, but all across the globe, especially in the weeks leading up to Monday, August 21. Despite this, it seemed as though peace was finally upon our nation, as people from multiple locations came together to experience the total eclipse, as one. Tourists flocked to Alliance, NE for the opportunity of a lifetime. Alliance welcomed the world’s eclipse-chasers with open arms, allowing some to take shelter in their homes, and on their property, and even providing meals and a sense of homestyle comfort for them.

For the first time since 1918, a total eclipse of the sun was visible coast to coast in the United States.

(A total solar eclipse is a phenomenon in which the moon comes between the Sun and the Earth, thereby cutting off all direct rays of sunlight to observers.)

Anticipation had been at an all time high in Alliance, Nebraska, since the beginning of 2017, when it became known that Carhenge, a popular tourist attraction in our small town, was considered to be one of the best viewing spots in the path of totality.

Kaoru and Ikumi Okajima came from Japan to watch the eclipse!

The Chamber of Commerce went right to work in planning for the big event; however, nobody knew just how “big” it would be. It soon became common knowledge that Alliance, built to support a meager 10,000 people, could potentially triple in size for just a few days. Local hotels became fully booked months in advance, local businesses were advised to stock up on inventory, and multiple events were scheduled surrounding the day of the eclipse.

In the days leading up to the eclipse, residents of Alliance began to experience heavy traffic, slow phone service, and longer lines in food establishments, as people from across the globe began to flood into the town. Venders from surrounding areas filled sidewalks with eclipse gear.

Monday morning, Ben Row of Denver, Colorado patrolled main street in style.

Denver native, Ben Row, holds up one of his eclipse t shirts

Due to his Post-Polio condition, Row used an electric wheelchair to get around, but none the less, the man made Box Butte Avenue look like a fashion runway, showing off the eclipse merchandise he received from one of the sidewalk vendors. Row expressed his long interest in astronomy and how his state has made it hard for him to enjoy it in the same ways he did, pre-polio. The total solar eclipse was a way for him to go back to his sixth grade self and fall in love with the universe all over again.

Bob and Mary pose for a picture on Box Butte Avenue!

Bob, alongside his wife, Mary, traveled to Alliance from Menomonie, Wisconsin, to watch the event. In 1979, Bob witnessed a partial eclipse and was mesmerized. He began doing research on eclipses, and declared that he was going to witness the next total eclipse in person. “It’s on his bucket list,” said Mary, when asked about the significance of the eclipse to them.

Unlike Bob and Mary, some stumbled upon the eclipse by accident! This was the case for Barbara and Marvin of Scottsdale, Arizona.

Marvin and Barbara sitting in front of Box Butte County Courthouse.

The duo had planned a vacation to the Black Hills, which would connect them to a wedding in Denver that the two had planned on attending. Then, they learned of the eclipse and decided to add that to their vacation agenda. After researching, the two learned that the closest location to totality they could get to was our town of Alliance! The two were extremely friendly and fit in just like any local would!

“Old people want to have fun, too!” These were the words of a tourist named Dale from Pensacola, Florida. While dining at local restaurant, Fizzy’s Dine In & Drive Up, Dale, along with three fellow visitors, noticed some tin foil and began examining the rumors of aliens coming to earth during the eclipse. In that moment, an idea struck the group. The next morning, the four took a roll of tin foil and began crafting unique hats, as a way to add their own touch to the event!

Jon, Apery, –, and Dale rocking their tin foil creations, pre-eclipse!

11:45 A.M., with four minutes until totality. A small town, known for its quietness, busier than ever before, as tourists and locals, alike, scattered to find the perfect spot to view this once in a lifetime event.

11:48 A.M. Thirty seconds until totality. The town began to echo with whoops and hollers, as the last sliver of sunlight faded from the clear blue sky.

Image of the total solar eclipse, taken by Alliance High student, Kyndal Paterakis

A sense of euphoria filled the air and strangers embraced, as the eerie darkness descended.

The 2017 Total Solar Eclipse was a beautiful and unforgettable event and though the eclipse only lasted two and a half minutes, it seemed that for that two minutes and thirty seconds, the shadow of the moon did indeed fall on a world at peace.

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