Eclipse 'really cool' in suburbs, awe-inspiring downstate
Let's just say that in the suburbs, Monday's eclipse was about 86 percent awesome.
Schoolchildren and their teachers, of course, were filled with wonderment.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing, so it's really cool," said Lorna Bellas, a fifth-grader at Wayne Elementary School, where Principal Marybeth Whitney-DeLaMar bought eclipse-viewing glasses for all 340 students to take their history lesson outdoors.
"I've been a teacher for 33 years, and this is something we've never been able to do," teacher Janie Kidd said. "It was a really wonderful way to begin the school year."
High schoolers, perhaps a bit jaded, took it more in stride. "It's cool," said several at a viewing at the football stadium of Naperville Central High School.
And at Harper College in Palatine, as the moon covered about 86 percent of the sun, two students sat inside, their backs to the viewing festivities going on outside. One of them, Nicholas Devuono, 19, of Rolling Meadows, said he'd have been more inclined to turn his head if the view had been of "comets or shooting stars."
Similarly laconic was Ray Fusha, 18, of Palatine, who accepted an offer to catch a moment through the special eclipse glasses. "Yeah, I see it," he said, returning the glasses after a few seconds, noting that it did not have a profound effect on him. "There's life-changing things happening every day."
No such reports out of southern Illinois.
There, suburbanites who made the trek downstate described an emotional, awe-inspiring experience, with people exclaiming, "Oh, my God" almost in unison as the moon crept toward 100 percent coverage of the sun.
Several were moved to tears.
"Yes, I was crying," said Vilia Jakaitis of Woodstock. "It's unlike anything you've ever seen before. It really was such a cool sight. It's hard to explain. It was totally worth it."
"It really took my breath away," said Jillian Martin of Carpentersville. "It was beyond anything I was expecting."
And, finally, "People were in awe," said Dave Broviak of Geneva.
Yes, there was the inconvenience of taking a day off work, the several-hours drive and the indignity of paying "triple the normal rate" for a hotel room in Marion.
Still, Broviak said, it was well worth it. "I'd do it again tomorrow if I could."
Charles Fulco, a science teacher from Massachusetts who traveled the nation for two years educating students and others on the joys of watching a total eclipse, has done it again. And again.
"I am so overwhelmed and spent with emotion now, having seen my fifth total eclipse this afternoon," he wrote for the Daily Herald.
Fulco, who made two stops in Naperville during a journey that took him to more than half the states in the nation, gave this description of what he saw from his downstate viewing spot:
"Thin clouds dissipated to a deep azure sky as an eerie dimness enveloped us as the minutes, then seconds ticked away. As the last sliver of steely sunlight light became a blazing diamond ring, the sun was vanquished by the jet black orb of the moon, revealing the diaphanous corona in all its glory."
He's certainly not jaded.
• Daily Herald staff writers Burt Constable, Lauren Rohr, Jamie Sotonoff and Marie Wilson contributed to this report.