Williamston hosts eclipse viewers from all over

By David Meade
The 2017 Great American Solar Eclipse brought a fantastic sight to viewers across the upstate who enjoyed near perfect weather for the event Monday.
They said it was coming, and that thousands of people would follow, however no one really knew what to expect as far as crowds and where they would go.
While events in Anderson and Greenville drew large crowds, eclipse viewers from across the east coast and even overseas, came to Williamston and the surrounding area to view the celestial event.
“The Solar Eclipse Over Williamston was a spectacular event,” said Envision Williamston Executive Director Sonya Crandall. “We were blessed with clear skies and had multiple ways to view the eclipse.”
Crandall said people from at least 17 states and the Wash. DC area, stretching from Connecticut to Florida and even west to California, were in Williamston for the eclipse.
And they came from over seas.

“Visitors also came from Australia, Belize, Colombia, England, and Holland,” Crandall said.
Williamston Police Chief Tony Taylor said he was amazed at how far some people traveled.
“I was amazed why they chose Williamston,” Taylor said. “Many said they went online and saw Williamston was having some type of event and they showed up here to have that experience.”
Taylor said he thought it was unique that people chose Williamston. “They were looking for a small town to experience it.”
Many of the out of state visitors choose to set up in Mineral Spring Park.
“They liked the park atmosphere,” Taylor said. “They wanted somewhere quiet to experience the eclipse.”
David Meade, who serves on the Envision Williamston Committee that organized the Solar Eclipse over Williamston event, said that as organizers were readying for the event on the ballfields around 8 a.m. Monday morning, one man from Raleigh, N. C. and another from Connecticut stopped by for information about the local event.
On the ballfields, approximately 60 vehicles set up for tailgating near the Veterans Memorial while another 300 or so people were at the event stage area.
“We had a great party venue in the baseball fields behind Town Hall,” Crandall said. “Chris Wagner was a phenomenal DJ and emcee. Tony Amato, from Palmetto High, guided us through the various phenomena and brought a 6 foot telescope with a special lens. Long lines formed to to view the once in a lifetime images.”
Several white sheets and paper were laid out on the ground for people to see the shadow bands.
Before and after Totality, prize drawings were held for a telescope and a smart tablet and other items.
Two professional photographers, who drove up from Orlando were downloading their photographs free to anyone who wanted them. They were planning to travel to Knoxville for the eclipse, but decided to stop in Williamston instead, they said.
While the ballfield area was the primary event site, many out of state visitors chose to watch the eclipse in the park.
“We also had our beautiful Mineral Spring Park for the naturalists who wanted to experience the Eclipse in a quiet, serene setting,” Crandall said.
By 10 am parking in Mineral Spring Park was almost full. License plates showed at least 20 different states including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida and more.
“One couple that I spoke with in Mineral Spring Park came from England to watch the eclipse,” Meade said. “After driving from New York to Charleston, they decided that the viewing would be better in the upstate. They chose Williamston.”
Another, in a rented RV camper, flew from Holland to New York, rented an RV camper and drove to Charleston, before deciding to come to Williamston.
They stayed overnight  Sunday and after the eclipse Monday, in Mineral Spring Park.
In addition to the solar eclipse viewing glasses, that were in high demand leading up to the event, some had telescopes, cameras and binoculars with special viewing filters.
Hunter Fanney of Laytonvsville, Maryland had a homemade eclipse projector using a cardboard box and a pair of binoculars.
New Jersey residents Barbara Medamana, along with son Jon and father John, drove down looking for a small town to view the eclipse and avoid the larger crowds. They enjoyed the eclipse in Mineral Spring Park.
Evgeny Zhuravlev came with his wife and three children from Pennsylvania to watch the solar eclipse on Monday. Originally from Russia, he moved to Pennsylvania three years ago. He and his family were on their way to the beach and decided to stop in Williamston to view the event.
“In sum, the Total Solar Eclipse literally put the Town of Williamston on the map!” Crandall said. “Throughout the town, an estimated 1,500 people from across the world convened in our beautiful small town. Away from the big city, folks came and enjoyed an afternoon of wonder, delight for the senses, and a taste of how infinitely full of surprises our universe can be.”
Williamston wasn’t the only place that hosted out of state eclipse viewers. The Cheddar Fire Department was another popular viewing spot for  eclipse viewers from out of state.
Approximately 50 people came to the Cheddar Fire Department to view the eclipse.
Captain Danny Coker talked to many of them and asked where they were from.
A sign-in sheet at the Cheddar Fire Department showed people came from  Pennsylvania, Tampa, Florida, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Georgia, New York and Washington D. C. Atlanta, Goosecreek, SC and Tampa Florida.
There was also someone from Pelzer and Greer at the fire department.
A family from Jerusalem had come the farthest.
Vickie Creamer of Cheddar also witnessed the event at the fire department. Shouts of “That is so amazing!” and “WOW” were heard from the crowd as the sky darkened, she said. “It was a great experience for all and no one left disappointed.”
Palmetto High Principal Robbie Roach said a group from the University of Maryland were viewing the eclipse in the school parking lot and sent up weather balloons.
Crandall said the Solar Eclipse over Williamston was a great success.
“I want to thank our co-sponsors: The Town of Williamston and the Palmetto Business Association. I also wish to recognize our prize sponsors of Ace Hardware, B&R Restaurant, and The Mill Town Players,” Crandall said.
“I also want to thank our Mayor Mack Durham, Mayor Pro Tem Hagood, and Councilman Burgess. A huge shout out to the Envision Williamston Board, Community Engagement and Marketing Committee, and Town Employees. Well done by All!”
Crandall also thanked all of the attendees and local residents for the hospitality extended to neighbors and visitors from afar.
“To our out of town guests, we invite you to come back to visit us again and be a part of our growing array of fun, recreational, and cultural activities,” she said.