With the path of totality for Monday’s solar eclipse cutting across a swath of Missouri, the celestial event captivated communities across the state, drawing droves of visitors and interrupting normal routines for hours leading up to and after the eclipse.
With Columbia in the path of totality, the eclipse captivated the region and interrupted routines. Adults took a day off work, and students cut class. A local Subway stopped making sandwiches.
Crowds gathered at public venues across town for watch parties.
On Francis Quadrangle at MU, there were cheers and applause, and the most popular word by far was “Wow!” As the crowd sounds died down, the cicadas and crickets could be heard, striking up a chorus. As the moon continued its journey, the light returned and the chimney swifts flew overhead.
Thirty miles south of Columbia, also in the path of totality, thousands flocked to Missouri’s capital city. Viewing parties were held at the Missouri State Capitol and at the North Jefferson City Recreation Area, where dozens of visitors camped overnight. Officials estimated about 10,000 people were at the North Jefferson Recreation and 15,000 were at the Capitol.
Morning rains threatened to spoil things for everybody in Missouri’s third bigger city along the path of totality. The city drew visitors from around the globe, but eclipse viewing was mostly a bust.
“Strategically and logistically, it was awesome,” said Beth Conway, spokeswoman for the St. Joseph Visitors Bureau. “But we can’t plan the weather. It is what it is.”
It was still a rich experience, “meeting hundreds of people from all over the world,” she said. “We had thousands of visitors. … I just wish we could have seen it a little better.”
Kansas City, St. Louis and beyond
In other parts of the state, outside the path of totality, millions of eclipse-watchers donned their special glasses, used their pinhole viewers or turned to other science tricks to watch as the moon blotted out the sun. Dozens of towns and venues roped off parking areas, stocked up on Moon Pies, placed their emergency crews on duty and put their special dark beer on ice. Amateurs and professionals sent up weather balloons, made pictures through telescopes and take measurements through spectrometers.