SOLAR ECLIPSE 2017 -MICHELLE GWYNN JONES - NEW GRACE NEWS

by SHANNON LONGNECK 

Solar Eclipse 2017 was nothing short of exhilarating and we in New Grace County were dead center in its path.

!!! YEAH !!!

But it wasn’t just the Solar Eclipse that was thrilling, it was the month leading up to it. New Grace was a buzz everywhere you went. There were books about eclipses on the front table right inside the doors of every library in the county. There were pamphlets about eclipse viewing safety in the doctor’s office and on the counter at the tire shop and the nail salon. The discussion over proper eyewear and where to get it could be heard while standing online at the movie theater and the river tube rental booth on the bank of the Emera River.

People were excited about inviting friends and family down for the day or the long weekend. One of my fellow reporter’s cousin flew in with her husband and two kids from Germany. The cousins hadn’t seen each other since they were small children and always talked about getting together – this was the push they needed.

Here in South Carolina the children head back to school in August, but this year in New Grace school started the day after the eclipse. School starting on a Tuesday was rather weird, everyone said so.

SOLAR ECLIPSE 2017 -MICHELLE GWYNN JONES - NEW GRACE NEWS

And out-of-towners, they flooded in. Every room in large chain hotels, to quaint boutiques, to ‘no-tell motels’ was booked months in advance. We at the New Grace News would like to thank the thousands of residents who offered space in their homes to strangers or their yards as popup campsites.

 With the out-of-towners came traffic, gridlock and longer lines everywhere you went, but you know what, no one I know complained about the invasions. In fact, I would like to tell you three stories of kindness I personally witnessed.

The first actually involved me. It was the day before the eclipse, I was eighth or ninth in line at my local drugstore, where there have never been more than two people in front of me. This woman and two tweens came in looking for eclipse glasses, of course

they were out of them. I pushed my cart aside and followed them into the parking lot. I asked her how many pairs she needed, six. I told her I had three extra pairs at home and would go get them for her. On my way home I called a friend who met me at the curb in front of her house with three pairs. I was back in the parking lot with six pairs in under three minutes. She was so thankful, she had driven down from New Jersey to her grandmother’s, but both of them thought the other would provide the glasses.SOLAR ECLIPSE 2017 -MICHELLE GWYNN JONES - NEW GRACE NEWS

Second – while waiting to be seated at Grits to Caviar in Beauclaire I was at the bar. The woman sitting next to me asked the bartender where would be a good place to go and see the eclipse. She had small children and was looking for a place, other than the hotel parking lot, that wouldn’t be too crowded. I heard the man standing behind her repeat what she had asked the bartender to the woman he was with. She in turn invited the woman sitting next to me and her family to a Bar-b-que at her house.

Third, and most shocking, I was in a car and my friend was driving. Now my friend’s attitude while driving is just short of road rage, she’s not one to chase someone down, but she can curse another driver out with the best of them, whether they can hear her or not. A car made a u-turn (completely illegal) and nearly hit her. I thought she was going to lose it, but instead, she just waived at the man when he mouthed, “Sorry.” Then he immediately came to an all but full stop so he could pull into a motel parking lot. She almost ran into him, but instead of ranting as usual she simply said to me, “I hope he finds a room.”

SOLAR ECLIPSE 2017 -MICHELLE GWYNN JONES - NEW GRACE NEWS

I’m telling you there was just something in the air, everywhere you turned you could find a New Gracean being gracious.

As for the event itself, there were parties all over New Grace County. The Theater in the Park in Saint Georgina put on a free concert. There was a festival in Lindley Commons. The Town of New Grace hosted a Kids Fun Day complete with carnival rides in Memorial Park.

My family choose to stay close to home and attended an impromptu party at the neighborhood pool. Now, I go to the pool all the time and there were people there I had never seen, but it was really nice to make new friends who just live around the corner.

SOLAR ECLIPSE 2017 -MICHELLE GWYNN JONES - NEW GRACE NEWS

Unfortunately, there were clouds in the sky which caused some areas of New Grace County to miss the full eclipse viewing.

I just want to say that the whole experience was so much fun.

If you were able to see the eclipse, who did you see it with and what did you do? If you weren’t in its path, have you ever seen one?