Eclipse 1MADISONVILLE, Ky. (8/21/17) — Although the area did not know how many people to expect for today’s total solar eclipse viewing, area cities were prepared for the masses.

An estimated 10-15,000 people packed into Madisonville City Park and Mahr Park off Nebo Road. Several hundred visitors also gathered at Madisonville Community College.

There were no major traffic jams and plenty of elbow room.

Roxie Copeland traveled from Alabama with her two Yorkshire terriers that had custom-made solar eclipse glasses. She spent the night with her sister in Evansville, and they drove into town early this morning.

“I have been so impressed with Madisonville,” Copeland said. “Everything is so clean, organized and everyone has been so helpful, so friendly and courteous. The fried moon pie was out of this world. If they ever throw anymore events here, we will come.”

David Dombrowski and his wife, Patti, traveled all the way from Michigan and arrived at Mahr Park at 6 this morning.

The couple said they have been looking forward to seeing the Great American Eclipse for years, and just picked Madisonville as their random destination. They were glad they did, noting the ease of travel and quiet countryside.

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Baltimore native Josh Plaschkes, a Fort Campbell soldier, said he came to Madisonville for the eclipse to celebrate with friends.

Pride Avenue Elementary student Aiden Kelly, 10, made his own glasses to view today’s eclipse at Mahr Park alongside his parents. He recalled learning in class the moon completely covers the sun during a total eclipse.

Another family flew into Evansville from Dallas for the event. Daniel Traylor said his family stayed with his brother, Chris, from Evansville.

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“I’m really impressed with what they’ve done here in Madisonville,” Traylor said, alongside his wife, Kathy and their children. “I can’t imagine another ideal place to come see the eclipse.”

Mayor David Jackson said he has enjoyed talking to people from Toronto, Canada, Germany, Michigan, Ohio and other travelers celebrating in Madisonville.

“It’s a good chance to showcase Mahr Park,” the mayor said, adding two new dog parks and playground equipment are in the works including a new walking trail.

Dawson Springs Police Chief Coleman Dixon said their area received an estimated 20-25,000 visitors today.

“I don’t have an official number,” Dixon said, adding several people visited from the lakes and state park areas as well as from Hopkinsville.

Mortons Gap Mayor Chris Phelps indicated their city entertained about 200 guests. Ray Ligon played music at the park, refreshments were offered along with games and a blackout trunk sale.

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“We had visitors from Ohio, Maryland, Delaware, Indiana and Tennessee,” Phelps said. “Even people from nearby counties joined us. It was a great day and a spectacular view.”

The closer folks got to Hopkinsville — the point of the greatest totality — the more congested traffic became.

Visitors to Madisonville said they were happy to have plenty of room to enjoy today’s rare phenomena.

When the skies went dark, crickets began chirping and the crowds cheered. Fireworks also could be heard in the distance. Some said they heard roosters crowing as the sun reappeared from behind the moon’s shadow.

Another eclipse will again cross western Kentucky in 2024, although it will not be quite like today’s.

Historical records show Kentucky rarely ever experiences a total solar eclipse. The state was previously the focal point for a total solar eclipse 150 years ago.

Doreen Dennis
SurfKY News Director
Region 2

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