JAY — Hundreds of people were at French Falls Park Monday afternoon, April 8, for a Great American Eclipse Party sponsored by the Jay Recreation Committee, Androscoggin Land Trust and Spruce Mountain High School Envirothon teams.

Seven-year old Hendrix Perkins at left and his brother Tommy Perkins, 12, both of Livermore look through eclipse glasses Monday afternoon, April 8, at French Falls Park in Jay. Several other people are seen heading out on a trail leading to the Androscoggin River during the Great American Eclipse Party. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

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

Mackenzie Hall, six years old of North Jay wasn’t sure about touching a squirrel pelt, but eight year old Emma Burhoe, also of North Jay had no qualms.

Envirothon members Brenden Veilleux, Lily Fortier and Morgan Craig led primary and elementary students from the afterschool program on a guided walk around the park before the eclipse began. The three also help with the afterschool program, Rob Taylor, high school teacher and an Envirothon advisor noted. He said a few other Envirothon members assisted with the walk – which was kept together with the use of a long, thick rope the children held onto.

At the Great American Eclipse Party Monday afternoon, April 8, at French Falls Park in Jay Nancy Crocker of Jay looks through eclipse glasses during the first part of the solar eclipse. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

Envirothon members also gave several demonstrations and talks. One was about the moon, its orbit around Earth and how the eclipse happens. Children could make their own model of the moon orbiting Earth.

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


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

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

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

Carol Tibbetts of Jay tries to take a photo of the solar eclipse Monday afternoon, April 8, during the Great American Eclipse Party at French Falls Park in Jay. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

Jenn Stone, Spruce Mountain Elementary School social worker commented on “all the excitement in the air,” as she returned from a walk along one of the park’s trails.

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

Monday afternoon, April 8, the sun sets a tree aglow during the solar eclipse at French Falls Park in Jay. The moon had covered about half the sun when the photo was taken. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

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


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

His wife, Tasha Perkins, said she and their kids go to the park often.

Nancy Crocker of Jay sat on the ground and peered through a pair of special glasses. She soon stood and moved to a different spot. “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 while trying to take a picture of the eclipse with her cellphone. “This is my first solar eclipse. I remember seeing a lunar eclipse when I was a kid.”

The sky resembles dusk Monday afternoon, April 8, at French Falls Park in Jay shortly before the solar eclipse reached its peak. Jay was not in the path of totality, so the sun was never totally obscured by the moon. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

Another lady passing by commented on what a gorgeous day it was.

“It’s awesome, it’s a spectacle,” Taylor said a little before 3:30 p.m. “[The sun] is really starting to go [behind the moon] now. I am really glad the school district jumped on board. It is a great experience for the kids.”


Taylor, Baker and Envirothon members held training for district staff prior to the eclipse. The advisors gave a presentation on the eclipse, the moon, some of the science behind everything. Team members then held breakout sessions for teachers to learn about specific things they could do with their students.

Monday morning every student in the district received a pair of the special glasses needed to view the eclipse safely. The district released students early because of public safety concerns over the increased traffic expected in the region and getting students home safely. Buses would have been operating during the eclipse.

The afterschool program was held and all students attending walked to the park from Spruce Mountain Elementary School which is nearby.

Sunday night Taylor had warned the Livermore Falls Advertiser the ground could be snow covered and those attending the party should wear boots. There was 18 inches of snow in the park Thursday after the last storm and when some things were set up earlier Sunday there was still three inches, he noted.

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

Taylor also shared details of graphics he saw earlier Monday. One map showed that April 8 is cloudy most years in New England, another showed that April 8 in New England for years with an El Nino is always sunny, he said.


“We have had a horrible El Nino,” he stated. “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.”

Many visitors gathered in the ball field as the time of peak coverage of the sun got closer. Others chose to sit on benches or logs in the park. One family spread out in the back of a pickup truck.

Many 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 maximum.

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

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