I watched the total solar eclipse in a city that doubled in size during the event. I don’t regret it.

I watched the total solar eclipse in a city that doubled in size during the event. I don’t regret it.
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On the left, Burlington's Waterfront Park mostly empty. On the right, the same park is packed with people for the April 8 eclipse.
Burlington’s Waterfront Park on a typical day (left) versus the day of the total solar eclipse (right).

  • I traveled to Burlington, Vermont to watch the total solar eclipse on Monday.
  • Roughly 50,000 people traveled to this small city for the event, doubling its size in a matter of days.
  • What’s usually a small, quiet city exploded in celebration.

A swarm of over a million Americans traveled to the path of totality to witness the solar eclipse on Monday, and I was one of them. I returned to my hometown of Burlington, Vermont to watch the event unfold.

Along with thousands of other eclipse watchers, I headed to Burlington’s Waterfront Park to watch the eclipse. While it was crowded, it wasn’t nearly as chaotic as I expected.

I chose Burlington as my eclipse-viewing city because of its convenience, the length of totality, and the city’s natural beauty
A side-by-side of a selfie of reporter Ellyn Lapointe wearing eclipse glasses next to a photo of the total solar eclipse on April 8.
I headed to Burlington, Vermont to watch the total solar eclipse on April 8, and even managed to snap a photo of totality.

Burlington is the state’s largest city, but with a population of only 44,000, it feels more like a big small town. Its tree-lined streets are relatively quiet, there’s hardly ever traffic, and everybody seems to know everybody.

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My parents live just 20 minutes away, so I didn’t have to scramble to book a pricey hotel room. I watched the eclipse from Burlington’s scenic Waterfront Park and enjoyed three minutes and 15 seconds of totality.

Burlington braced for an influx of 50,000 eclipse tourists
Church Street in Burlington, VT on the morning of the April 8 eclipse.
On my way down to Waterfront Park, I stopped by Church Street, Burlington’s most popular spot for shopping and dining, to see how busy it was. But it was just as crowded as it would be on a typical Saturday.

In the days leading up to the eclipse, an estimated 50,000 eclipse tourists poured into Vermont to witness this event.

On Friday, the state’s most utilized rest area saw a 200% rise in traveler numbers compared to this day last year, followed by another 225% spike on Saturday and a 168% spike on Sunday, according to VT Digger.

6,000 people gathered on the shore of Lake Champlain
A huge crowd of eclipse watchers sits on the boardwalk in front of Lake Champlain in Burlington, VT.
Eclipse watchers in Burlington, VT flocked to the waterfront of Lake Champlain to watch the event unfold over the Adirondack Mountains.

The boardwalk at Waterfront Park was the perfect place to watch the eclipse. It faces west, looking out over Lake Champlain and the Adirondack mountains, offering a picturesque backdrop for the eclipse.

Even as the crowd formed, there was a sense of calm that kept things from feeling too packed. Folks found their viewing spots and stayed put, chatting with others nearby, offering photography advice, and enjoying the sunny day.

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A hush fell over the crowd during totality
Silhouetted eclipse watchers stand in front of the Lake Champlain
Silhouetted eclipse watchers stand in front of Lake Champlain in the dusky light of the final moments of totality.

When totality hit and the sun’s corona peeked out from behind the moon’s shadow, cheers erupted from the crowd. But then it grew quieter as people took in this awe-inspiring sight. Excited, hushed voices could still be heard amidst the clicking of camera shutters, but the three minutes and 15 seconds were remarkably serene.

Walking traffic wasn’t that bad
Crowded street in front of the Echo center in Burlington VT
Once totality ended, most eclipse watchers immediately left the park and headed back uptown.

As soon as totality ended, there was a mass exodus from Waterfront Park. People packed up their chairs and cameras and headed back uptown.

I braced for slow-moving, congested foot traffic as I, too, made my way back toward Church Street — Burlington’s main marketplace. But it wasn’t too crowded at all. Luckily, the city had closed certain roads to driving traffic ahead of time to allow people to walk safely and quickly back into town from the waterfront.

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The sense of community was strong
crowd at burlington's waterfron park for 2024 eclipse
Having thousands of people come together to witness the total solar eclipse was a deeply unifying experience.

Burlington is an incredibly tight-knit community, and I’m reminded of that fact every time I return to this city for an event. A swarm of people may feel claustrophobic in any other city, but in Burlington, it feels interconnected.

I enjoyed chatting with other eclipse-watchers in the crowd about where they traveled from, who they came with, and why they were excited about the eclipse. Complete strangers mingled, snapped photos of each other, and were mindful of others’ space and needs.

This kind and cooperative atmosphere made traveling to a city that doubled in size a stress-free, fun experience.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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