Total solar eclipse captivates East Tennessee

Raymond Isbill, Sweetwater

SWEETWATER (WATE) – It looked like nighttime when the total solar eclipse occurred in East Tennessee on Monday. Cheers went up in Sweetwater when the moon’s shadow crossed in front of the sun, blocking its light from reaching the Earth.

Parts of the region saw 100 percent totality while other areas still reached near totality and experienced many of the same phenomena. Skies went dark, roosters crowed and crickets began chirping as they believed it was night.

Thousands of people packed towns in East Tennessee like Sweetwater and Niota, which were in the path of totality. People from all around the country and even outside the country were spotted in Monroe County to see the eclipse.

Students in Oak Ridge were still in school, but they took part in a number of eclipse-related activities leading up to a massive viewing party outside.

Oregon was the first to get totality at 1:16 p.m. Eastern time. The eclipse then made its way across the United States, the first to do so in nearly a century, eventually reaching East Tennessee.

Partial eclipse began around the area just after 1 p.m. Special eclipse glasses became scarce in the days leading up to the eclipse, but everyone who was able to obtain a pair quickly donned them to watch the phenomenon.

At the Cove in Knox County, the festive atmosphere was like the Fourth of July and Labor Day rolled into one.

“I’m in college now, so the next time there’s an eclipse I’ll probably be working. So I’m not going to have another opportunity to be with my family and see one,” said Jared Peters.

Hundreds of people gathered in Maryville to soak up the sun and experience the rare event.

Some traveled hundreds of miles to Blount County to witness nearly two minutes of totality.

“We just knew this would be a once in a lifetime opportunity for my family. And I wanted to be able to tell my grandkids and my kids tell their grandkids that they got to see this,” said Alison Rainwater.

Many described the experience as more than they could have hoped for.

“I didn’t realize how overcome I was going to get until it happened. At first I was thinking, ‘Oh yeah we’ll see something.’ Then when it started, there was this automatic excitement, amazement to know that we won’t be here the next time this happens, so it was an absolute awesome experience,” said Terreka Holloway.

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