Everything is in tune: Total eclipse proves to be cosmic experience of a lifetime

October 2017 Posted in Community


15 year old Giselle Linn sitting in among the eclipse crescents at Silverton High School (2)By Melissa Wagoner

Cosmic awe swept over Silverton the morning of Aug. 21 in the form a total solar eclipse. Right on time it amazed cheering crowds from all over the globe.

“That was the most amazing thing I’ve seen in all my 15 years,” exclaimed Giselle Linn who could not stop grinning as the sudden dusk brightened back into day.

More spectacular even than this once in a lifetime solar event was the positivity, kindness and overall joy found within the humanity that witnessed it. At 10:17 a.m. onlookers turned their eyes to the heavens and the sight evoked spontaneous cheering in some, tears of wonder in others.

“Oh my gosh, when people started cheering – that was amazing,” Ana Price a photographer from California said.

“It was amazing,” recent Silverton High School graduate Gavin Owings agreed. “I can’t even explain it. It was easily the most amazing thing I will ever see. It was emotional.”

Although the eclipse itself was in the hands of the universe, preparing for it and for the people who would come to view it was a task many in Silverton had been working on for over a year. All the preparation paid off. All around town peace reigned and tourists slid seamlessly into parking spaces, campsites and restaurants showcasing Silverton at
its finest.

“It’s going great,” Oregon Garden employee Shawn Nicol said on the Sunday before the eclipse. “Today’s just another ordinary day in the garden – except we have a full campground.”

Nicol estimated the garden was expecting between 2,000 and 3,000 campers some from as far away as Scotland and Japan.

With the number of visitors running into the thousands, one might expect The Garden to be overrun and chaos to be the theme. Not so. Clearly labeled signs pointed campers to group sites, a general store sold ice, and Silverton’s Gear-Up Espresso kept everyone happily caffeinated.

Many campers took the opportunity to explore The Garden on Sunday wandering the grounds and picnicking around various food trucks.

“I thought it would be really loud,” a camper with family in town from Ecuador said, “but it’s been really great.”

Most visitors spent at least some time in downtown as well, spreading the crowds out further and boosting the
local economy.

“There are people going everywhere,” Nicol said.

Some of those wanderers made their way to this year’s Fine Arts Festival where the Silverton Arts Association saw a bump of 1,500 attendees over last year on Saturday alone, according to board member Carol DeMar.

“We’ve got a lot more people here than last year,” arts association member Marilyn Schlechter agreed.

Although normally an unusual place to find tourists, many out of towners found their way to the fields surrounding Silverton High School on Monday morning to watch the launching of a special balloon.

Equipped with a video camera and sanctioned by NASA, this balloon was one of 55 taking flight across the country, sending eclipse information back to teams of scientists on earth.

At the appointed 8:45 a.m. launch time a countdown commenced. The giant white balloon sailed into the stratosphere and footage began relaying back to a team of astronomy students on the ground.

As these students watched real time video footage, hundreds of others also attempted to capture the moment. Professional photographers lined up tripods aiming cameras fitted with filters to protect their high powered lenses while novice photographers held disposable eclipse glasses in front of their phones. Everyone struggled to get a shot of what looked like magic and – lasting less than two minutes – was as fleeting as it was miraculous.

When the stars faded and the twilight brightened into sudden day young Giselle Linn found a spot in the shade of a tree. Dotted with crescent shadows from the still partially obscured sun she exuded silent joy, while across the field photographer Ana Price may have summed it up best saying, “Every second counts.” 

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