Many people who were tied up in traffic while heading to the solar eclipse’s path of totality ended up making a detour in Evansville. Hundreds of people entrenched themselves at the riverfront to soak in every single second of this rare cosmic event.

The crowds on the Evansville riverfront resembled the Fall Festival and their demeanor resembled New Year’s Eve. Many revelers had party favors and kazoos, letting out a high pitched buzz when the eclipse reached its peek.

For a few fleeting seconds, large pockets of complete strangers had one thing in common.

“The eclipse, that’s pretty self explanatory there. It was a great excuse to pull a couple kids out of school to experience it,” said Matt Vrtis.

Vrtis, his two kids and their three friends made the four hour trip from Carmel, Ind. to see the eclipse. While their original plan was to drive to Hopkinsville, Kentucky — the epicenter of the eclipse — but decided to make a detour to Evansville.

“My daughter was a big proponent of coming down here and seeing the 100 percent totality of the eclipse,” Vrtis said. “We got to 99 percent and I told her that we’ll have to settle for down here in Evansville.”

The kids didn’t mind. They were excited to see something that some never get to.
“I’m really excited. Not only because we’re not going to school but also, in school, we’re not able to see [the eclipse] that well from where we are,” said Amelia Vrtis.
They weren’t alone.

As the moon began to cover the majority of the sun, there was a noticeable drop in temperature. The light began to have a grayish hue, prompting dozens of vehicles’ automatic headlights to come on. The streetlights on the Evansville riverfront were also activated.

Sheila Washington was mesmerized.

“It did get cooler. You could see all the car lights coming on and you could see the street lights on the riverwalk coming on. You could hear the crickets as if it was night time. It was an experience,” Washington said.

Total solar eclipses don’t come around often. When they do, its a special occasion, eclipsing anything many on the riverfront had ever seen.

“I remember seeing one back in 1979 and I was looking through a box and a pinhole. We didn’t have those fancy glasses that they can get online these days,” Vrtis said. “I’m so happy that my kids got to see this and make some family memories.”