Hundreds turn out for Marathon County Public Library's eclipse viewing partySubmitted: 08/21/2017
Lane Kimble
Lane Kimble
News Director

Hundreds turn out for Marathon County Public Library's eclipse viewing party
WAUSAU - Helen Wisniewski dipped out of work at her job as a software analyst in downtown Wausau for a few hours Monday morning.

"I'm taking my lunch break," Wisniewski said with a laugh.

Thanks to her special eclipse glasses, Wisniewski had no problem blending in with the crowd of people around her.

"Come together, enjoy this together," Wisniewski said.

Wisniewski joined her friend's children and hundreds of others outside the Marathon County Public Library in downtown Wausau. Everyone hoped to see the first total solar eclipse of their lifetimes.

"I'm of the generation of not [sitting on a smartphone] all the time," Wisniewski said. "There's more to the world than staring at your electronics."

There were plenty of smartphones outside the library Monday, but some lower-tech items like pinhole-viewer paper plates helped people get a glimpse of the moon covering the sun.

"I just think it's interesting," Jim Schulz said. "Something we'll never see again."

Melissa Trask had known about the eclipse for a while, but she decided early Monday morning to bring her small children to the library.

"Natural phenomenons and that's something that doesn't happen very often," Trask said. "It's something that they may or may not see again in their life."

"It looked like the corner is a block of cheese," five-year-old Danielle Antin said.

The library decided months ago to host a solar eclipse viewing party. Kids passed the time waiting for the eclipse by marking solar system toilet paper rolls, but the hot-ticket item--200 eclipse glasses--disappeared in about an hour.

"People are really unified and excited," young adult librarian Julie Kinney said. "This could be a really good thing for us and for our planetary programs and our astronomy programs."

The library showed NASA's live stream inside for those who couldn't or didn't want to go outside. That option was a lifesaver for Nancy Ward, who planned a trip from Seattle (near the 70-mile-wide umbra) to visit family in northcentral Wisconsin before she knew about the eclipse.

"My cousins found a way for us to view it here and, you know, if it's not total, I'm happy anyway," Ward said.

Even though the clouds didn't always cooperate for viewing the eclipse, those coming from near and far could all agree on one thing: missing this view wasn't an option.

"Considering recent events, you know, this is a time for all of us to come together and enjoy something that's really worthwhile," Wisniewski said.

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