Eclipse party breaks out at library

The eclipse may have only been 70% of totality here, but it was 100% fun as a community party broke out at Wilton Library.

More than 300 people gathered Monday afternoon to watch the live feed from NASA that was streaming on a large screen in the Brubeck Room and in the computer room, while others milled about waiting for the big event in both courtyards and all around the library. And even though clouds obscured the sun at the greatest point of totality, there were no unhappy faces as people chatted and caught peeks a few minutes later when the clouds thinned.

“I thought it would be a fun social event,” said Lynn Ruefenacht when asked why she was there. “It’s like the blackout, it’s a fun social time at the library.”

She had a crackerbox cut out to capture the moon passing in front of the sun, but it wasn’t working very well.

It’s likely Ruefenacht was able to look through a pair of glasses the library gave out on a first-come, first-served basis, as people swapped them back and forth throughout the afternoon.

Elyse Dickenson was not put off by the overcast skies, saying she liked the look of the clouds passing overhead. She was having a good time, she said, adding “I met about 30 people.”

Eight-year-old Quinn Mitchell said his Cheerios box was working well as a viewer. He thought the eclipse was “really cool because it’s different than normal. The sun’s brighter.”

New to town was Caroline Smith, the new pastor of the Wilton Baptist Church. She brought her two children, Bella, 7, who gave the eclipse a thumbs-up, and Noah, 3, who seemed to be having more fun playing with their cardboard box than looking through it.

“We heard in church about the eclipse party,” Smith said. “It is very busy, but it’s fun to see everybody all together.”

Camped out in the middle of the courtyard were Teresa Waldron, a library trustee, with her daughter Olivia and several friends from Wilton High School: Viki Matuk, Kate Ginsberg, and Amy and Suzy Malburg, all rising sophomores.

Waldron said she used the event as “a way to get the kids off their phones. It’s the best place to be viewing the eclipse,” she said. “This is what we do [at the library], we bring the community together.”

Olivia thought the event was “pretty cool,” adding it was “fun being here with everyone. I was excited for it.”

As for not looking directly at the sun, Kate said, “it’s like the sign that says ‘don’t press the red button.’ You have to do it!”

Among the crowd was First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice who summed up the thoughts of many saying, “thank you so much to the Wilton Library for this community event. How nice to see people of all ages.”

Then, joking with Laurie Davis, they could not resist adding the turnout “eclipses all expectations!”