An out-of-this-world experience – City marks eclipse with community celebration

by Dan Holland

More than 300 area residents gathered April 8 for Eclipse Fest held at the Splash Park pavilion on the Broadview Heights city campus from 2-4 p.m. The event featured food concessions, music and a supply of solar glasses made available to view the partial eclipse prior to and after totality.

The entire crowd let out a hearty cheer around 3:14 p.m., when a total solar eclipse changed a warm, sunny day seemingly into a cool evening at dusk.

“This is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime event for most people,” said Mayor Sam Alai during the event. “It’s a beautiful day, and we wanted to have a family-friendly atmosphere and a place where people can come to with the kids being out of school. We have people spread out all around the city campus today.”

“We want to have a nice, safe place for them to come where they’re not going to be out on the road or stuck in traffic or dealing with any of those kinds of issues,” he added. “It seems to be a pretty good day today, and we’re all going to get a chance to see the eclipse. So, we’re very excited about that.”

During the total solar eclipse, which occurs when the moon casts a shadow on the Earth (the umbra), obscuring the sun, the celestial event was viewable without the use of solar glasses for approximately four minutes. Spring peepers could be heard in the nearby woods and birds scurried across the sky seeking to nest for what seemed to be nighttime.

The last total solar eclipse visible in Ohio occurred in 1806, with the next one not scheduled until 2099, according to This year’s eclipse traced a swath across Mexico, the U.S. and Canada from southwest to northeast. In August 2017, a partial solar eclipse was visible across Northeast Ohio.

Mary Ann Hartha traveled from McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania to take in the event with Broadview Heights residents Dane and Adrianne Davic.

“We wanted to come out just for the fun of it,” said Adrianne Davic. “The mayor promised us music and food, and it’s a good get together to be with other people to enjoy it together. The solar eclipse is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us that we didn’t want to miss.”

“We just thought it would be interesting to see it amongst other people, kind of like seeing a sporting event in a bar rather than sitting at home,” said Frank App of Broadview Heights, who attended the event with his wife, Julie. “We’ve really been looking forward to this for a while.”

Eric and Erin Nowjack, who live near the Broadview Heights business district along Broadview Road, walked to the event.

“We live about three miles away; not far from Danny Boys [Restaurant], and we decided to walk on down,” said Erin Nowjack. “It was a perfect reason on a beautiful day like this to take a good long walk, watch the eclipse, have an ice cream sandwich or moon pie and then head home.” ∞

Frank and Julie App of Broadview Heights brought their
lawn chairs to Eclipse Fest, which took place on the
Broadview Heights city campus. Photos by Dan

Adults and children of all ages couldn’t wait to witness the solar eclipse in totality, at which time the afternoon sky over Northeast Ohio grew dark as twilight for approximately three minutes.

Eric and Erin Nowjack of Broadview Heights had all eyes on the sky.

On our cover (photo): Several families gathered on the Broadview Heights city campus April 8 as part of Eclipse Fest, where they witnessed the first total solar eclipse Northeast Ohio has experienced since 1806. Photo by Dan Holland.