Patrons of West Paris Library watch the eclipse. Rose Lincoln/Bethel Citizen

BETHEL — Jack Hartford, 9, and his dad, Jon Hartford, travelled from their South Portland home to West Paris Library to see the eclipse on April 8.

Ryan Morse, 16, of West Paris reacts while watching the eclipse at a watch party at the library. Rose Lincoln/Bethel Citizen

“We were going to drive to 100% [totality] but we had baseball practice so we wouldn’t have made it. So we went to 98.7%,” said Jack.

“We were only at 95% in South Portland,” said his father.

“We were at 93%,” corrected Jack.

Inside the library, the Hartfords and about 15 other patrons sipped hot chocolate and chomped on Doritos while waiting for the 3:28 p.m. eclipse at the library’s watch party that had started at noon.

A young library regular showed the Hartford’s how to make box viewers using 18-ounce corn flakes’ cereal boxes. Rayleen Lima and her husband Al came to West Paris from Oxford without eclipse glasses so learned, too.


Cheers were periodically heard from the TV, where Library Director Brenda Lynn Gould was playing NASA’s live simulcast of the eclipse as it was telecast in city after city across the U.S.

“They just mentioned Maine,” a patron said excitedly.

Brettan Adams, 20, sat in the giant window seat of the library, where he had drawn a few sci-fi looking eclipses. He came with his younger brother Soran, 15. Do the animals react to an eclipse? asked a young patron. Gould explained that they find their way home.

John Gould of West Paris, husband of West Paris Library Director Brenda Lynn Gould, watches the eclipse at a library watch party. Rose Lincoln

This is Gould’s third eclipse as library director. “We had no glasses in 2017, [but] we had fun with cereal boxes and colanders.”

This year Gould ordered 500 pairs of eclipse glasses. She gave most of them to other area libraries. When she opened the library at noon, a line went from the front door to the road. Her 30 remaining pairs were gone in 23 minutes, she said, despite giving out only one per family.

Outside, Gould’s husband, John, was hanging a disco ball that cast tiny moons on the ramp floor and on the library facade.


Several people were looking up now as the moon began to cross the sun, changing its shape to a crescent. Bonnie Tyler was belting out the song, “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” played on a continuous loop from Ryan Morse’s phone.

For some, April 8 was like any other day. When a worker arrived in a truck to the adjacent yard to fill the propane tank, one of the library patrons ran over to lend out her eclipse glasses. The woman looked up, nodded her approval, then got back to work.

“98% … it seems like it should be darker,” said a patron.

“My phone survived, it didn’t overheat,” said another.

People thanked the Gould’s as they departed, and just like that, the eclipse party was over.

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