Coolidge Park Crowd Gets Twilight, Cricket Chirping As Solar Eclipse Arrives

Monday, August 21, 2017
Group from Jackson, Miss., has an elaborate eclipse-watching setup at the Mountain View Inn in Cleveland
Group from Jackson, Miss., has an elaborate eclipse-watching setup at the Mountain View Inn in Cleveland
- photo by Bill Peterson

A crowd at Coolidge Park and the nearby Walnut Street Bridge got twilight and cricket chirping as the heralded solar eclipse finally arrived at mid-afternoon Monday.

As the moon moved across the sun around 2:30 p.m., birds quit chirping and began to roost. Crickets started going full force. Lights on the Market Street Bridge began to flicker on.

The event, sponsored by Comcast, included music and free eclipse viewing glasses.

Just before the main event came the song "Solar Eclipse of my Heart." Then the music stopped as the crowd looked skyward. As the sun came back out, the deejay put on the Beatles "Here Comes the Sun." 

Just to the north of Chattanooga, there was even more darkness where throngs had gathered in the tiny town of Spring City and elsewhere.

On Monday morning, northbound traffic on I-75 near Ooltewah was reported at a standstill for those wanting to get to locations with 100 percent darkness.

The parking lots were empty at many Chattanooga businesses as owners took off to watch the big show. Not many customers were coming in to those who did open - for the most part.

Roger Mayo at Eyeglasses Inc. on Lee Highway said he was closing early and heading for his son's house. It is in Soddy Daisy, but is just at the southern edge of the 100 percent zone. The son took off from his delivery job as well. His wife was off because the schools closed.

It was a hectic situation along Highway 27 and Highway 58 in the hours prior to the eclipse. One business owner was charging $40 for a parking spot. Signs were posted along sections of the northbound highways telling motorists it was not ok to pull off by the side of the road.

Crowds gathered at the Mountain View Inn in Cleveland at its high perch. One crew from Jackson, Miss., had an elaborate setup, including a tent and special cameras. One car had a sign that read "Totality or Bust."


County Clerk Bill Knowles said his offices would stay open, but he set up TV monitors in public areas from 1-3 p.m. He was also furnishing a pizza lunch to staff in each of the offices.


The Clerk and Master's Office was closing between 2 and 3 p.m.


- Photo2 by Bill Peterson

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