Celestial spectacle dazzles crowds

Thousands watch total solar eclipse in Tri-Lakes region

Terri and Trelyn Lucarini and Mary DeSantis watch the total solar eclipse in Riverside Park in Saranac Lake on Monday. (Enterprise photo — Elizabeth Izzo)

Thousands of visitors arrived in the Tri-Lakes on Monday in hopes of experiencing more than three minutes of darkness as the sun was completely eclipsed by the moon. A solar eclipse of this scale has been called a once-in-a-lifetime event, especially in the North Country, where another will not be seen for centuries.

Eclipse-chasers were treated to a perfectly clear sky to photograph the rare occurrence, despite clouds covering portions of the sky at other times throughout the day. The eclipse seemed to exceed many people’s expectations. Some self-described cynics were moved to tears by the sight. First-time totality viewers were shocked that the sun’s corona was visible as much in person as in photos.

The influx of visitors to view the eclipse started earlier this past weekend. Some local businesses saw an uptick in traffic. On Monday, the foot and car traffic spiked.

Air traffic increased, too.

At the Adirondack Regional Airport in Lake Clear, owned by the town of Harrietstown, airport Manager Corey Hurwitch said the airport capped the number of incoming private planes at around 50 and the airport had to turn away “a couple hundred private aircraft.”

People view the solar eclipse by Lake Flower in Saranac Lake on Monday. (Photo provided — Lauren Yates)

“This is probably, since I’ve worked here, the most requests we’ve received,” Hurwitch said. Hurwitch has worked at the airport for the past 16 years.

Thirty to 40 planes were also seen at the North Elba-owned Lake Placid Airport just before noon, with takeoffs happening shortly after totality ended.

Cape Air, which operates public flights into and out of Adirondack Regional Airport, did not respond to a request for comment by deadline Monday.

Tupper Lake

Aaryn Dukette, 2, of Tupper Lake, was ready for the total solar eclipse on Sunday. Dukette’s family attended an eclipse mask-making event at L.P. Quinn Elementary School in Tupper Lake put on by the Kiwanis Club of Tupper Lake. Dukette loves space and was interested in the eclipse. (Photo provided —Cierra Noelle)

Thousands of people donned solar glasses and watched the eclipse in Tupper Lake. The town was packed, and at the center of it was the Wild Center and Adirondack Sky Center and Observatory’s eclipse festival at the nature museum and adjacent school building.

Fields filled up with lawn chairs and coolers as people camped out for the day, but eventually, the games of kickball and cornhole were put on pause as the moon covered more and more of the sun. The wind picked up, the temperature dropped, the world around grew dim and sort of gray and people got quiet.

Every so often, a child could be heard screaming “Oh my gosh!” as they looked through their glasses for the first time in a couple of minutes.

“It kind of looks like somebody bit one-third of the sun out,” said Elias Quesada, 6, from the Bronx.

Paul Chagnon watches the total solar eclipse from his grandfather’s deck in Lake Placid on Monday. (Photo provided — Denis Chagnon)

People cried. People cheered. People stood silently, jaws agape.

“Well worth the drive!” Desiree Mingst shouted to fellow eclipse-chasers as they left the Wild Center nature museum for their car. Mingst drove four-and-a-half hours from Dutchess County with her sons — Joshua and Jeremiah, 10 and 7.

“Making those core memories count,” she said. “We’ve been planning for a year for the most spectacular three minutes of the most extravagant celestial event I think I’m going to see in my lifetime.”

Laurie Garramone, from Johnstown, came up to volunteer for the event, wearing a space suit costume she got for a fundraiser she does at a food bank back home.

When asked about what brought her to Tupper Lake to see the eclipse, Garramone said: “How could you not hear about it?”

Peter Schoenberger, Amy Fradon and Reagan Murphy, all of Ulster County, watch the partial solar eclipse at the North Elba Show Grounds on Monday. (Enterprise photo —Parker O’Brien)

“I knew a year ago I was going to be here,” she said. “I wouldn’t be anywhere else other than Tupper Lake. … It’s totality! Like, this is miraculous, unbelievable and incredible!”

Carolina Windsor, who came with her family — Daniel; Paloma, 10; Vivianne, 7, a space buff — to Tupper Lake from Astoria in Queens, said the same thing as Garramone. The two don’t know each other, but were on the same track of mind minutes apart from each other.

“How could you not (hear about it)?” Windsor said.

The ASCO has been promoting the event since last year, and with the help of the Wild Center, brought solar viewing, science projects, games, expert talks, art, music and food to make the eclipse a multi-day event.

Shezad Morani and his son Jasper, 8, traveled from Huntington, Long Island to be at the Wild Center on eclipse day. He said they heard about the Wild Center and ASCO’s plans and thought about traveling for totality a year ago, but put the idea aside until recently when they “spontaneously said ‘let’s do it.'”

Saranac Lake artist Sandra Hildreth paints a plein air landscape in the aftermath of Monday’s total solar eclipse near Lake Flower. Hildreth and other local artists are submitting their eclipse day art to the Adirondack Artists Guild in Saranac Lake, which is holding an eclipse-themed art show through April 17. (Photo provided — Lauren Yates)

“It’s an event not to be missed, and this was the spot to go,” Morani said. “We took off from school, we took off from work. We had to go.”

Miles Schuster, 12, came from Valatie. He said his brother loves outer space and his family was seeking prime totality.

“We all came here to see it, and then I’ve got school tomorrow,” Schuster said.

Selene Wolf and Leafe came from Cooperstown on a last-minute whim.

Wolf brought along a lengthy 600mm camera lens to capture totality for the first time. The two saw the weather looked good in Tupper Lake on Sunday and decided that night to drive up Monday morning.

“I’m going to get good eclipse shots and nothing is going to stop me,” Wolf said.

The partly cloudy skies over Tupper Lake parted just in time for totality, giving a perfect view of the blackened moon, the bright ring of the sun’s corona and the rays of sunlight splayed out into space.

Seth McGowan said there was lots of buildup to the eclipse, but on the day of the event, things felt calm. Tupper Lake brought people in from around the world, and even the astronauts on the International Space Station who tuned in to NASA’s livestreamed coverage of the event got to see footage of the eclipse over Tupper Lake as seen from the lawn of L.P. Quinn Elementary School.

McGowan is an eclipse ambassador for NASA through the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Because of his passion for eclipses and connections in the astronomical community, Tupper Lake was able to be part of NASA’s live stream. And Bloomingdale-based Good Guys Productions captured the crowd’s reactions during totality and livestreamed them as well.

Eclipses are very predictable. Figuring out when they’ll happen is just a matter of math.

“For example, we know the next one coming through Tupper Lake is in 2399,” McGowan said.

Saranac Lake

Part of Main Street in Saranac Lake was blocked off for the Saranac Lake Solar Fest, which included a performance by Brooklyn-based musician Allison Spann at Berkeley Green, food stands and balloon art by Scott Eichholz.

Outside of the Saranac Lake Free Library, at Vest Pocket Park, a group of astrophotography enthusiasts set up to capture the eclipse.

Danielle Richards of Tea Neck, New Jersey traveled to Saranac Lake and was joined at the park by her daughter, who was visiting from Boston. Richards saw the 2017 partial solar eclipse from her backyard and decided that this year, she was going to travel for it.

As she sipped a pint of Hex and Hop beer, she adjusted her camera set up and pointed to the beginnings of the solar eclipse on her camera screen. This was her first time photographing a solar eclipse and she’d been planning for this, off and on, since January.

“In my lifetime, this is probably it, for me, as far as being able to see it and travel,” she said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing for me.”

“It’s kind of neat to have an event that kind of brings everybody together and get to meet people from all over and experience this,” she added.

Annika Squires and Jacob Dach traveled from New York City to Saranac Lake to view the eclipse. Squires found out about the Saranac Lake Solar Fest online.

“It’s such a cute town, we want to come back this summer. We’ve never been to the Adirondacks,” she said.

“It’s cool seeing the first corner going away,” Dach said. “I’m really excited to see the totality.”

At Riverside Park, Terri and Trelyn Lucarini, Mary DeSantis and their family watched the eclipse together.

The Lucarinis, from Pleasant Valley, and the DeSantis family, from Glens Falls, watched the partial solar eclipse in 2017 at the Franklin D. Roosevelt home in Hyde Park.

Trelyn Lucarini, a middle school student at Arlington Central School in Lagrangeville, Dutchess County, was much younger back in 2017 — but thinks that partial solar eclipse was “really pretty and a lot like this one.” Terri said that eclipse was “nothing like total.”

Both Terri and Trelyn enjoyed this year’s total solar eclipse, too.

“When it was total, it was like it bleached everything. It was like a Pinterest filter,” Trelyn said.

Trelyn was inspired by Arlington Central School science teacher Eve Papp to view it — Papp showed Trelyn’s class videos of the 2017 eclipse.

“I found it really cool. The street lights came on,” Trelyn said. “Honestly, it was so fire.”

Lake Placid

Hundreds of people gathered to watch the eclipse at the North Elba Show Grounds, which was one of several designated viewing spots around Lake Placid.

As the moon fully covered the sun, a group of spectators at the show grounds cheered. But for New Jersey native Jon Meyers, he was left speechless.

“It really makes you realize that you’re just one small bit in this big world,” he said.

Meyers had been preparing for his trip to watch the solar eclipse for the past four years. Meyers is an engineer and while in college he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in aerospace, so he was pretty passionate about the eclipse.

“We’ve got a cabin over in Keene Valley, so we come over here all the time,” Meyers said. “It just so happened that this worked. Our cabin is a family cabin and we share it with my cousins and whatnot and I booked it four years ago, and I told them ‘April 8, 2024, this is my cabin for the (solar eclipse) and I don’t want to hear anything about it.'”

Meyers said he bought two telescopes, specifically for the solar eclipse. The father of two said he was recording a time lapse of the solar eclipse with one of his telescopes.

“I’m hoping that (my kids) remember it,” Meyers said. “That’s what we’ve been telling them. Next time it comes here I’ll be long gone, so hopefully they can remember it.”

Justin Hunt drove all the way from Providence, Rhode Island with his 3-year -old son. Hunt said he had been planning his trip to see the total solar eclipse for a while.

“We didn’t know exactly where we were going to go, but once I saw all the cool stuff that was going on, all of the Olympic sites, I said, ‘This seems to be the best place to go,'” Hunt said.

Hunt said his son doesn’t quite understand what exactly was happening, but he is glad that he’ll have this memory with his son. The two even made a makeshift mask with paper plates and the eclipse glasses.

Ulster County native Amy Fradon said she couldn’t stop crying when the eclipse reached full totality. She described it as something she had never seen before.

Fradon and her family traveled to the North Elba Show Grounds well over three hours to watch the eclipse. Her family had been “glamped out” at the North Elba Show Grounds on the Olympic platform next to the softball field since at least 11:30 a.m.

“It’s been really nice how welcoming everyone has been — the local rangers and police,” she said. “There was free parking and it was very community-minded.”

Over at the Olympic Speedskating Oval, the state Olympic Regional Development Authority hosted the main viewing party for Lake Placid’s business district, complete with food trucks, music and plenty of eclipse glasses to spare.

Throughout the viewing party, which kicked off well before the eclipse started, the music choices ranged from on-theme (David Bowie’s “Starman” and The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun”) to off-kilter (R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It”). Every hour or so, Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” came on; the first time it began playing, the whole oval erupted in groans before people began to sing along.

Some people staked out their spots on the oval more than two hours before the partial eclipse began, like Tricia Seith and her daughter, Sophia Wells. They traveled from Redwood City, California to New York earlier this week to visit family in Glens Falls, then drove up to Lake Placid on Sunday with Seith’s father, Rich. Tricia said they chose Lake Placid as their eclipse destination because of its many viewing areas.

“I would definitely give a shoutout to the local government,” she said. “This is so well-run.”

The group viewed the eclipse from the oval after the weather foiled their original plans.

“We did know it snowed because we have a lot of friends and family in New York. We were psyched,” Tricia said.

“We also don’t have snow boots, so we were maybe going to watch at the horse show grounds, and we were like, ‘Oh, actually, no — it’s covered in snow,'” Wells said.

Jesse Hagar, from New Jersey, said that his family — he was a member of a large group, all in matching t-shirts — chose Lake Placid because they wanted to experience totality and were familiar with the region. Speaking with the Enterprise before totality, he said he was already hooked on eclipse-chasing.

“I feel like I’m already ready to go to Iceland in 2026,” he said. “I haven’t even seen one (yet) and I’m like, ‘Where are we going next?'”

Suzanne Herbst, also from New Jersey, saw the last total eclipse in 2017 in Wyoming. She and her husband are now eclipse-chasers and traveled to Lake Placid with a group of friends for this eclipse.

“Once you get the bug, you want to see it again,” she said.

Some attendees had only ever seen a partial eclipse but were bitten by the bug nonetheless, like Jennifer Villa, who traveled to Lake Placid from Long Island with some friends.

“Back in 2017, we had the partial eclipse and I found that interesting,” she said. “I actually put a phone reminder back in 2017 right after the partial (for the 2024 eclipse), and a year before this one, I started looking for hotels.”

Other were Lake Placid enthusiasts more than eclipse chasers.

Stephen and Laura Pensky and their sons, Henry and Lincoln, travel from their home in Coopersburg, Pennsylvania to Lake Placid around twice a year. The Penskys were married in Lake Placid, too. To commemorate his sons’ first total eclipse, Stephen used his laser cutter to make a special sign with the phases of the eclipse and his sons’ names on it.

“It doesn’t happen (often),” Stephen said of the eclipse. “It’s a good reason to stop everything and do something different.”

On the other side of the oval, Dick Garland, from Rhode Island, was wearing his pins from the 1980 Olympic Winter Games. He also sported a sign pinned to his jacket that read “I am the youngest person to attend the 1980 Winter Olympics,” though he clarified that the sign belongs to his son, who is 50 and wouldn’t wear it.

Garland said his family has a special connection to Lake Placid.

“My mother was here at the 1932 Olympics, which wasn’t easy — that was during the Depression. She came here with another woman and she watched,” he said. “They had the Van Hoevenberg bobsled and she’s got a picture on it.”

As totality darkened the speed skating oval, with the silhouettes of the High Peaks looming in the distance and Venus shining brightly just below the sun and moon, Garland said he was amazed.

“Isn’t that something,” he said.

Elias Quesada, 6, and Wyatt, 4, from the Bronx, watch the solar eclipse form with safety glasses they decorated at L.P. Quinn Elementary School in Tupper Lake. “It kind of looks like somebody bit one-third of the sun out,” Elias said. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Marbone)

From left, Kathryn Hodge, Tara Mirabile and Eva Rice dance at an eclipse-themed silent disco at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake on Monday. (Enterprise photo —Aaron Marbone)

Micheal Goldstein lines up the sun in his telescope to get ready for the total solar eclipse on Monday, along with a slew of volunteer astronomers invited by the Adirondack Sky Center and Observatory in Tupper Lake. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Marbone)

Laurie Garramone of Johnstown, New York traveled to Tupper Lake to volunteer with the Adirondack Sky Center and Observatory during the eclipse on Monday. “I knew a year ago I was going to be here,” Garramone said. “I wouldn’t be anywhere else other than Tupper Lake.” (Enterprise photo —Aaron Marbone)

Dick Garland, from Rhode Island, returned to the James C. Sheffield Olympic Speedskating Oval to watch the eclipse on Monday. He previously attended the 1980 Olympic Winter Games with his son, and his mother attended the 1932 games. (Enterprise photo — Sydney Emerson)

Brooke, left, and Callie Lawrence, both from Connecticut, test out their eclipse glasses at the Olympic Speedskating Oval in Lake Placid on Monday. (Enterprise photo — Sydney Emerson)

The moon starts to cover the sun on Monday in Lake Placid. (Enterprise photo — Parker O’Brien)

The eclipse reaches totality as the moon completely blots out the sun. (Enterprise photo — Parker O’Brien)


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.75/week.

Subscribe Today