It was one of those rare events in which the actual event was bigger than the hype.

A crowd of more than 500 visitors gave cheers, “ooohhs” and screams of delight as the moon passed in front of the sun on Monday afternoon.

As the moments of totality slipped away, the “diamond ring” effect brought the loudest cheers as the bright shining light from sun re-appearing gave off a large “bling.”

The crowd included eclipse fans from from at least 10 states, including about 60 students from Camdenton High School and a couple from Dallas who came for the eclipse and left thinking of retiring to Ashland.

Bentonville, Arkansas’ Seth Lankford takes a peek at the eclipse after the period of totality as the moon passes by the sun. Telescope owners from the Camden County Astronomy Association allowed park visitors to view the eclipse through one of their many telescopes.

Eclipse fans spread blankets, rolled in coolers and set up telescopes to await the moment of totality beginning at 7 a.m. Crowds brought picnics and families enjoyed a day in the park.

“We had a wonderful day to see this tremendous solar eclipse – we’ve seen a lot of plates from Texas as well as from Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin, New Jersey and, I’ve just heard, from Australia, California and more,” said Ashland Park Board chairman Jared Bryan.

“City park worked out great – it helped that school was not in session – the park was perfect for this and a lot of people enjoyed the park,” Bryan added.

According to Bryan and Ashland Police Chief Lyn Woolford, the event went off without a hitch.

“Everything was very calm,” Woolford said, “and there was some congestion for about an hour afterwards at Henry Clay and Broadway.”

Eclipse watchers also packed around New Salem Church and Mother’s Day roadside Park off of Highway 63, however, the Boone County Sheriff’s Department reported no incidents or major problems after the celestial event. It seems that all went off without a hitch, and the main event left visitors breathless.

“We were going to Marshall and we saw cloud cover would be bad,” said Bentonville’s Seth Lankford. “We didn’t want to go to Columbia with a big city feel or crowds and we saw Ashland and thought, ‘Wow! Small town – perfect!'”

~ Get more of the story in today’s Journal ~

By Bruce Wallace