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Young and old, near and far, eclipse was something to remember


Audrey Corley sat in her lawn chair, anxious and curious — combined with a little uneasiness.

After all, the first-grader at Coder Elementary School in Aledo had never seen a full solar eclipse. But then, neither had anyone else in attendance, including her father, Michael Corley, who was there with his daughter on this special day at the Aledo Athletic, Inc. ballfields on Bankhead Highway.

They were among a couple hundred who turned out for Total Eclipse of the Park, co-hosted by the City of Willow Park and the Parker County Chamber of Commerce.

"It can actually hurt your eyes if you don't use your glasses," Audrey said, adding that she and her classmates had been learning about the historical event in school.

"I'm scared and excited, but more excited," she added.

"I'm kinda big on you don't want to miss once-in-a-lifetime events, and if you can see them with family, you definitely don't miss it," her father said.



Audrey and Michael, like everyone else in attendance, agreed the experience was indeed unforgettable. As the moon completely covered the sun at approximately 1:40 p.m., gasps could be heard, along with comments such as, "It's so cool!" and "This is incredible!"

And indeed it was. After all, how often does this kind of history come around? Well, in North and Central Texas this was the first time since 1878 and the last time until 2317.

The Willow Park and Aledo area were among those in the path of totality. If you wanted to experience this phenomenon at its fullest, this was a place to be.

Edith Bagniewski came all the way from Minnesota. She has a good friend in the area, Alaina Tenseth, whom she visits every couple years.

"We went to high school together and she came down to see it better," Alaina said.

"The bluebonnets are in season, and it was just a great time to see those and the eclipse," Edith said. "Also, I've never seen an Indian Paintbrush before."

Meanwhile, Alaina's nephew, Tom, made the trek over from Weatherford in his own unique style wearing a welding mask.

"It's the perfect way to view it," he said.

Hardy Trang came from New Orleans via a detour through Temple, where he was going to watch with his sister before weather forced him to change his plans.

"I figured I'd come here since it's more cloudy there," he said. “My sister stayed there and I just spoke to her on the phone, and sure enough, they’re dealing with a lot of clouds.”

With him was Tram Ngo, also from New Orleans, who said, "We got to witness a partial eclipse before, but this is so much better."

A learning moment

Other parents also made the event a learning experience for their children, such as Anjolia Garcia of Weatherford.

"I wanted a little community event for the kids to get out and share this with others," she said. "We have a really good view from where we live, but we wanted to be with others."

Jackson Garcia (no relation), from Aledo, also brought his two young children, though he didn't tell them why they were there.

"We're letting it be a little bit of a surprise," he said.

Rakisha Chenault of Willow Park wore a special sweatshirt commemorating the event with the phrase "The sun is getting mooned."

"The last time I remember seeing a partial was in elementary school. I remember being on the playground with the piece of paper with holes in it," she said.

Cindy Bautch came to town from Wisconsin, also visiting the Tenseths.

"We were planning a spring trip and mom said we'd better plan it around the eclipse," she said. "It's so amazing to think of how all this is happening and we're lucky enough to be here to see it."


Special occasion

Willow Park Director of Communications and Marketing Rose Hoffman called the event a great success.

"It's a special moment in history when everyone can come together and experience something so rare as a group. It was even more special for us that Willow Park was able to create that opportunity for our friends and neighbors," she said. "We are grateful to our partners with the Parker County Chamber of Commerce and Donna J Alberts/Edward Jones (who provided free viewing glasses), and also would like to extend our appreciation to Aledo Athletics, Inc., for the gracious loan of their grounds.

"This was one of those days that showcases all the truly wonderful things about our community."


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