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Eyeing the sky
Hundreds attend the Great Bend Public Library eclipse viewing party
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The line for free eclipse-viewing glasses reached nearly a block-long on the Forest Ave. side of the Great Bend Public Library Monday morning. - photo by VERONICA COONS Great Bend Tribune

Eclipse viewing glasses were a hot commodity in Great Bend Monday morning. Those looking for a pair began arriving as early as 8 a.m. at the Great Bend Public Library where it had been announced there would be an eclipse viewing party mid-day. While the wait continued until 11:30 a.m., and the line grew to nearly a block-long on the Forest Ave. side of the library, most who waited were not disappointed.
Taylor, Great Bend, and brother Brogan start school on Wednesday, so they were there with their grandmother. While none of the three had ever seen an eclipse before, and wondered if the clouds that filled the sky that morning would keep them from seeing it, Taylor was optimistic.
“There’s supposed to be another one in Texas in seven years,” she said. “That’s the year I graduate, so maybe I’ll get to go.”
Diane Poncin, who was also at the library with her grandchildren, could not remember actually seeing an eclipse, but did remember her father helping her and her brother to look at something in the sky through a piece of smoked glass, and figured that had been a long-ago eclipse event.
Library staff asked those in family groups to share in order to stretch the 250 pairs of glasses ordered for the event. Some came with the eclipse-viewers or with welding glasses they picked up elsewhere or owned. It was not uncommon to see glasses passed from one person to another.
Sherry came with her son, Jacob. He urged her to bring him after attending an earlier library event with his grandmother, she said. She didn’t recall having ever seen an eclipse before, and looked forward to sharing the experience with her son.
Free hot-dogs and bottled water were offered, and library staff manned craft tables where children mixed household chemicals and glitter together to make slime, and others drew pictures of the phases of the eclipse or cut and pasted a sun and moon eclipse simulator as they waited. Yard games were played, and people spread out on the lawn, laying back to gaze at the sky as the moon travelled across the sun, its crescent eventually encompassing all but seven percent of its surface. While elsewhere along the path of totality, the sky grew decidedly dark, in Great Bend at the peak of the eclipse, the light resembled that of early evening, and the lingering cloud cover lent to the feeling of impending rain. But as the moon continued to pass before the sun, the skies grew brighter, and the crowd at the library began to grow smaller, until finally the much-heralded event came to a close.