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Fun In The Park Eclipses The Main Event At Ridgefield's Ballard Park

One man has his eyes on the sky to check out the eclipse — but no one else in Ballard Park in Ridgefield seems to notice!
One man has his eyes on the sky to check out the eclipse — but no one else in Ballard Park in Ridgefield seems to notice! Photo Credit: Karen Tensa
A woman and her daughter use a pinhole postcard to cast a shadow of the eclipse onto a sheet of paper on Monday in Ballard Park.
A woman and her daughter use a pinhole postcard to cast a shadow of the eclipse onto a sheet of paper on Monday in Ballard Park. Photo Credit: Karen Tensa
Two girls use a pair of protective solar glasses to try to take a photo of the eclipse on Monday in Ballard Park.
Two girls use a pair of protective solar glasses to try to take a photo of the eclipse on Monday in Ballard Park. Photo Credit: Karen Tensa
The view through the solar glasses shows a crescent of the sun as the moon casts its shadow.
The view through the solar glasses shows a crescent of the sun as the moon casts its shadow. Photo Credit: Karen Tensa
Ballard Park is jammed on Monday for the viewing party for the solar eclipse.
Ballard Park is jammed on Monday for the viewing party for the solar eclipse. Photo Credit: Karen Tensa
No filter: The sun is obscured by a thin cover of clouds during the eclipse.
No filter: The sun is obscured by a thin cover of clouds during the eclipse. Photo Credit: Karen Tensa

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. — Crowds came to Ballard Park for the eclipse, but they stayed to play.

There was a very long line on Monday winding around the park and down the sidewalk as the Ridgefield Library handed out free solar glasses that made for safe viewing of the eclipse, the first in the U.S. in four decades.

They handed out 500 pairs, but even more people poured into the park for the viewing party. The crowd included lots of teens and young kids— the playground was jammed.

By the time the main event arrived, many in the crowd seemed to have forgotten why they had gone to Ballard Park.

Kids were zooming around, tossing footballs, throwing frisbees and playing run and scream. (Maybe they took to heart the order: "Don't look at the eclipse!").

Mostly adults — and a few teens — used the protective eyewear to view the eclipse as the moon began to blot out the sun just before 1:30 p.m. Those without glasses were able to borrow from nearby friends and strangers, as the sought-after eyewear ws passed around.

Some thin cloud cover made for intermittent viewing of the height of the eclipse, which came at about 2:45 p.m. But many exclaimed at the bright orange crescent of the sun that was visible through the protective lenses.

And though the crowd was estimated at nearly 1,500, only a few hundred craned their necks and get their eyes on the sky.

"Cool" and "pretty" and "it's mine turn" were the most commonly heard remarks. One man dodged a running kid and said, "I would have had a better view at home — no trees."

Related story: All Eyes Were On The Skies For Eclipse In Westport, Bridgeport

And it wasn’t even a total eclipse: The moon covered about two-thirds of the sun over Fairfield County.

Many were already making plans for the next eclipse in seven years. "It would be cool to see a total eclipse," said one teen.

Large crowds also gathered at Westport’s Rollick Observatory, with 500 to 600 people joining the Westport Astronomical Society in getting a peek through the permanent telescope.

The scene was similar in Bridgeport, where the Discovery Museum was passing out free eclipse glasses with each paid admission. Budding scientists could view the spectacle from the Adventure Park, though not while actually zip-lining.

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