Americans celebrate total solar eclipse

Spellbound crowds react to the sight of “totality” with jaw-dropping expressions of awe and joy.

NIAGARA FALLS, New York (Reuters): Throngs of skywatchers across North America gazed upward at a blackened sun in the midday dusk on Monday, celebrating with cheers, music and matrimony the first total solar eclipse to darken the continent in seven years.

From a Mexican beach resort close to where the eclipse made landfall to the banks of the Ohio River and farther north beyond the roaring cascades of Niagara Falls at the U.S.-Canadian border, spellbound crowds reacted to the sight of “totality” with jaw-dropping expressions of awe and joy.

In Russellville, Arkansas, a town of roughly 30,000 residents near the state’s only nuclear power plant, almost 400 couples tied the knot by the shadow of the moon in a mass wedding event dubbed “Elope and the Eclipse.”

At least two weddings and one marriage proposal were known to have taken place among roughly 2,000 people who assembled at Niagara Falls State Park despite overcast skies.

The dreary weather subdued the experience until clouds momentarily parted to reveal the last 30 seconds of totality, and the crowd went wild, cheering and shouting, “It’s so beautiful.”

As the skies began to brighten again, a band played out the retreating lunar shadow with a rendition the R.E.M.’s 1992 hit song “Man on the Moon.

Across the river in Niagara Falls, Ontario, 309 people – some from as far away as Singapore and London – came dressed up as the sun, setting a new world record for the largest group to wear solar costumes in one place, contest organizers said. The previous record was set in 2020 by 287 participants in China.

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