By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Hundreds gathered for much of the day on Aug. 21 outside of the Shrewsbury Public Library for a chance to safely view this year’s rare solar eclipse.
Area residents began lining up as early as 9 a.m. for a 1 p.m. event at the library where organizers gave away 200 of the solar eclipse glasses necessary to view the eclipse without risking permanent eye damage. The community’s enthusiasm about the giveaway and the eclipse itself impressed organizers.
“I don’t think we had to do anything to get people interested,” said the library’s assistant director Priya Rathnam. “People were interested and I think they found out that the Shrewsbury Library was one of the few libraries and one of the few places where glasses were still available.”
Eclipse glasses were a sought after product in advance of the eclipse as many local stores sold out of them weeks before Aug. 21. Several eclipse watching parties around the state were distributing glasses on the day of the event. Shrewsbury, however, was one of the only such parties in the immediate area.
As glasses were rare in its lead up, the eclipse was even rarer. This was the first total eclipse in the US since 1979 and the first since 1918 to travel from coast to coast. Though it was most striking when viewed from a narrow strip of land down the center of the country, people across North America could see at least a partial eclipse.
Ultimately, it was that uniqueness of the event that drove both the organization of the Shrewsbury Library watch party and the enthusiastic turnout for it.
“It’s an almost once in a lifetime event,” Rathnam said. “So we definitely wanted to do something for the kids and the people in the community.”