Everything was great about the solar eclipse in Greensboro, except the clouds. But even the clouds offered a moment of joy in Center City Park on Monday.

Early on, the sky was clear, and with the eclipse glasses being handed out in Center City Park, you could see the moon biting into the edge of the sun.

Then the clouds came, and with the eclipse glasses on you couldn’t see anything. So people sat on the grass and chatted or wandered around looking for people they knew. It was a lighthearted friendly crowd, biding their time, confident that the clouds would clear in time to see the eclipse.

All at once, a cheer went up from all across the park as the sun, or what was left of it, peaked out between the clouds and people hurried to get their eclipse glasses on to see. After about 30 seconds – but more than long enough to find the pocket the eclipse glasses were in, get them on your nose and stare up at the sun – it was gone.

Unfortunately that was the only time the clouds parted for the folks in Center City Park, but we’d seen it, not all of it, not the 94 percent eclipse we were supposed to see, but it seemed to be enough to satisfy most folks who continued to hang out in the park until after 2:42, when the height of the eclipse was reached here.

The streetlights did come on and it was darker, but with the clouds obscuring the two stars of the show, it didn’t seem as remarkable as most of us were hoping for.

I attend a lot of events about community building, and judging from the crowd in Center City Park, I think one of the best community building events I have ever attended was the eclipse viewing. So more eclipses would lead to more community building, but I understand they are a little hard to schedule.

I kept hearing that the last total eclipse was 99 years ago, which made me think I was older than I am because I remember the last one and I’m pretty sure I’m not over 100 yet. The last total solar eclipse in North Carolina was March 7, 1970.

I remember the one in 1970 because I didn’t see it. I was in Chapel Hill for a high school swimming meet, which I still think should have been postponed for the solar eclipse because Chapel Hill only got a partial solar eclipse, while a few miles east it was total.

So now I’ve missed two solar eclipses in North Carolina, but it looks like there will be another one in 2024, so I’m getting ready.

Cutline: Photo by John Hammer

The clouds parted briefly during the eclipse at Center City Park