In Vermont, solar eclipse-watchers say totality was totally worth the trip

As the shadow passed over Lake Champlain, daytime paused as the world turned to darkness. From the shoreline, thousands of people began cheering – howling at the moon on a Monday afternoon.

The last time the Green Mountain State was in the path of totality of a solar eclipse was in 1932. The same year, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo over the Atlantic Ocean.

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In a country seemingly fractured about most things, on Monday, Americans came together under one sky.

For over a year, the city of Burlington has meticulously planned for the moment the moon’s shadow passed overhead. It was nothing short of a citywide mobilization to prepare for thousands of eclipse-watchers.

Monday’s was the longest continuous eclipse across the continental United States, stretching from southwest Texas to northern New England and crossing through 13 states. Over 32 million people live on that path. Cities big and small spent months planning to host millions of visitors. They came from around the world to witness this special celestial event that happens once – or, if you’re fortunate, twice – in a lifetime.

“It was beautiful and unusual and overpowering and impressive in every way that you can imagine. I was just reminded of our place in the universe, if you will. … How beautiful is that?” says Virginia retiree Bobby Parker.

He and his wife, Wynne, drove 14 hours to Vermont. “If you ever get a chance to a see a total eclipse, take it, take it,” he says. “You won’t be sorry because there’s nothing, absolutely nothing, like it I’ve ever seen in my life.”

As the shadow passed over Lake Champlain, daytime paused as the world turned to darkness. From the shoreline, thousands of people began cheering – howling at the moon on a Monday afternoon.

“It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It totally exceeded expectations the way everything in the world totally went dark and how the temperature dropped. My son saw bats come out,” says Boston-area dad Bob Hatcher, who had been planning his trip for nine months with his wife and two kids. ”I’ve been looking forward to this for years, and it was everything I could’ve hoped for.”

The last time the Green Mountain State was in the path of totality of a solar eclipse was in 1932. The same year, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo over the Atlantic Ocean.

Why We Wrote This

A story focused on

In a country seemingly fractured about most things, on Monday, Americans came together under one sky.

Eclipses have long inspired myths. This year, the story in the sky was being written on the ground. For over a year, the city of Burlington had meticulously planned for the moment the moon’s shadow passed overhead. It was nothing short of a citywide mobilization to prepare. The state of Vermont estimated some 200,000 people – one-third the size of the state – were coming by cars, planes, trains, and RVs to be in the path of totality. In a society that spends a lot of time staring down at smartphones, the total eclipse made the country, as one, look up in wonder.

Spectators take in totality over Lake Champlain on April 8, 2024, in Burlington, Vermont. As the moon crossed in front of the sun, the midday light turned to dusk and the crowd erupted in whoops and cheers.

“Whatever happens in the sky on April 8, the story that we’ve been writing together on purpose to prepare for this moment in history – that story happened on the ground,” said Deb Ross, co-chair of Solar Eclipse Across America. Ms. Ross had been helping her town in Rochester, New York, and hosting workshops with other cities across America to prepare for the eclipse.

“The world was different in a way it never is for just a couple minutes,” says Ms. Ross of her experiences with eclipses.

Monday’s was the longest continuous eclipse across the continental United States, stretching from southwest Texas to northern New England, crossing through 13 states. Over 32 million people live on that path. Compare that with the 12 million who lived in the path of totality during the last total solar eclipse in the U.S. on Aug. 21, 2017.

People dance to drum music on Church Street April 7, 2024, in Burlington, Vermont, as part of a city-wide celebration of Monday’s solar eclipse.

Cities big and small spent months planning to host millions of visitors. They came from around the world to witness this special celestial event that happens once – or if you’re fortunate, two or three times – in a lifetime. People interviewed made reservations a year in advance, and hotels in this small city were seeing rates above $1,000 a night.


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