Prince Edward County’s Newspaper of Record
June 11, 2024
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News
April 10, 2024
Volume 194 No. 16

Darkness Visible

County celebrates shared moment of stunning beauty — even in clouds
<p>Darkness visible in Picton (Enhanced Photo by Logan Somers)</p>
Darkness visible in Picton (Enhanced Photo by Logan Somers)

As cosmic an event as the eclipse was, it was also a social occasion. Wineries and hotels with outdoor patios did brisk business, in the County as elsewhere along the path of totality. But the revellers seem mostly to have been locals.

Spokesperson Mark Kerr told the Gazette there are no official numbers, but estimates an extra “1,000-2,000 people in total gathered in parks and public spaces to observe the eclipse.”

It was a far cry, in other words, from Niagara, which had a deluge of one million visitors, and declared a state of emergency in order to secure support and extra resources from the federal and provincial governments.

Kingston, meanwhile, was also underwhelmed by visitors. Local hotels reported 10,000 overnight guests, and the city estimates about 20,000 people gathered in parks. Numbers far below predictions of up to half a million visitors for the big day.

Nonetheless, the experience was worth sharing. Social media was dominated for a few hours with excited shots of heavens and earth in light and dark.

“From what we’ve heard and experienced, the eclipse felt like an extra long weekend,” said Eleanor Cook of Visit the County.

”It created great momentum following the Easter long weekend, infusing a positivity and a sense of, ‘let’s keep it going’!” she noted.

“The businesses we spoke with were happy with their capacity, and the community celebrated together from the streets to the shorelines.”

“We hope that the family, friends, and guests that chose Prince Edward County to view this once-in-a-lifetime celestial event will come back again.”

Order Maintained

“Vehicle and pedestrian traffic in both Picton and Wellington were on par with a busy weekend during the summer months,” noted Mr. Kerr.

The view from Bloomfield (Jason Parks / Gazette Staff)

While some scoffed at the emergency plans for the event, preparations for which started last year, they paid off. Port-a-potties were installed in all major parks and gathering areas.

“The total solar eclipse event in Prince Edward County was in line with what we expected in terms of public gatherings and traffic volume,” Mayor Steve Ferguson said. “The pre-planning and preparation exercises undertaken by staff helped ensure the day unfolded smoothly and without major incident.”

South was the direction to go for the best views. Point Petre was packed. Sandbanks Provincial Park also filled with thousands of sky watchers. The influx of eclipse viewers closed Wellington’s Rotary Beach to additional visitors by 2:20 p.m.

In Bloomfield, about 50 people gathered at Mill Pond Park. Children played while parents watched the sky in hopes the grey clouds rolling in from the west wouldn’t scupper the view.

But meteorological fate intervened. A watcher from Oshawa was patiently waiting for his brother to arrive from Montreal so they could view the eclipse together.

“This really sucks,” he said with a laugh. “He’s driving all the way here — but if he’d stayed home, he’d have been able to see it more clearly from his backyard.”

But even if there were clouds, at the critical moment, things became clear. There was a sudden stillness, and a drop in temperature. “Eerie” was a word used by many.

The view from Picton (Photo: Logan Somers)

Eclipse patrons around the County noted a pair of large booms about 10 seconds apart coming from somewhere east just moments before totality.

Waupoos Eclipse (Photo: Dave Mercer)

No immediate and decisive explanation for the booms has been offered. A website called Universe Today notes scientists are discussing a new theory that, as the moon’s shadow travels across the surface of the earth, the atmosphere cools so suddenly it creates a pressure difference. “This gives rise to a sonic phenomenon: a shock front.”

Freighter in totality on the Adolphus Reach (Photo: Chris Fanning / Gazette Staff)

A mass exodus Monday afternoon choked local roadways for a few hours. Lines of traffic bound for the 401 entrance at Wooler Road backed up on Loyalist Parkway all the way through Bloomfield and out towards Sandbanks along Stanely Street.

This text is from the Volume 194 No. 16 edition of The Picton Gazette
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