JAY — Hundreds of people were at French Falls Park on Monday afternoon for the solar eclipse party sponsored by the Jay Recreation Committee, Androscoggin Land Trust and Spruce Mountain High School Envirothon teams.

“It’s awesome, it’s a spectacle,” Rob Taylor, high school teacher and an Envirothon adviser, said a little before 3:30 p.m. as the sun started to be eclipsed by the moon. “I am really glad the school district jumped on board. It is a great experience for the kids.”

Taylor had warned Sunday night that the ground could be snow covered so boots would be appropriate. The park received 18 inches of snow Thursday. On Sunday there were 3 inches, he noted.

Arin Quintel of Livermore Falls watches the eclipse Monday at French Falls Family Recreation Park in Jay. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

“I can’t believe how dry the ground is,” he said Monday. “This was snow covered ground yesterday. It couldn’t have have worked out better.”

Taylor also shared one map he saw that morning showing that most years April 8 is cloudy in New England. Another showed that for years with an El Nino, April 8 in New England is always sunny, he said.

“We have had a horrible El Nino,” he said. “If this is payment for a horrible El Nino year we will take it! I am not sure if it’s true but it is a really cool graphic.”


Throughout the afternoon, Envirothon team members were available to talk about a variety of animal pelts and skulls set up based on their living habits. Posters on the tables indicated animals that were crepuscular, or active at dawn and dusk, those that are nocturnal, or active during the night, or those that are diurnal, active during the day. Visitors could feel the softness of the fur or the hard ridges on some skulls.

Envirothon members Brenden Veilleux, Lily Fortier and Morgan Craig led primary and elementary students from the after-school program on a guided walk around the park before the eclipse began.

“I am looking forward to the eclipse,” Donna Peare of Jay said. “Actually, it has already begun.”

“You couldn’t have had a better day for it,” Dennis Stevens of Jay said.

Stevens spoke of hearing about people being at the Overlook in Rangeley on Sunday night and sleeping in their cars to get good viewing spots.

Ken Baker, an Envirothon adviser and high school teacher, said he was surprised so many people were already at the park. “They are still coming,” he said.


Jenn Stone, Spruce Mountain Elementary School social worker, said mentioned “all the excitement in the air.”

“I have been watching the traffic, I live off Route 4 (in Livermore),” Joshua Perkins said. “Traffic has been backed up all day long.”

His son, 7-year-old Hendrix Perkins, said he liked the trail leading down to the Androscoggin River best so far.

Spruce Mountain High School freshman Morgan McDaniel, right, uses a model Monday to show Landon Bacon, 10, of Turner what happens during an eclipse at French Falls Family Recreation Park in Jay. Members of the school’s Envirothon team held demonstrations during the Great American Eclipse Party. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

“It’s really pretty back there,” Joshua said. “I had no idea.”

Nancy Crocker of Jay sat on the ground and peered through a pair of special glasses but soon moved. “I couldn’t see what the sun looked like, there were tree branches where I was sitting,” she said. “I wonder how many kids down on the trail are having the same problem.”

“You can really see it, it’s starting to come across,” Carol Tibbetts of Jay exclaimed. “This is my first solar eclipse. I remember seeing lunar eclipses when I was a kid.”

Many visitors gathered in the ball field as the time of peak coverage of the sun got closer. Some spoke of the sky getting darker and of feeling a chill in the air. A countdown was heard just before 3:31 p.m. when the eclipse was expected to reach its peak.

It looked like a crescent moon earlier, now the bottom of the sun is visible, one woman said shortly afterward.

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