The small town of Winnsboro, South Carolina hosted a lot of people eager to witness a total solar eclipse Monday. They came to the town just north of Columbia from around the country. After all, it had NASA's stamp of approval for viewing the eclipse.
At 2:41 Monday afternoon, a cheer went out as the moon briefly blocked the sun. More than 300 people came to a baseball field in Winnsboro to take in the event. Some were sitting on lawn chairs, others sprawled out on blankets. Kids had their eclipse viewers made out of cereal boxes.
The field was one of many NASA-approved sites because it was in the path of totality, had an unobstructed view, and was hosted by an astronomer.
Ken Terry and his wife made the one hour drive from Fort Mill. It was her birthday.
“It started getting darker you could start hearing the insects do their evening rituals it was pretty cool,” he said. “And then as it got darker and darker it got cooler and cooler and it was just so very exciting.”
The temperature dropped about 10 degrees.
Chris Mckenzie is from New York. He just dropped his daughter off at Davidson College and took a detour to Winnsboro to see this sight.
"There was sort of a blue haze as it settled in,” he said. “Then to look up and see a black hole where the sun is supposed to be is a pretty remarkable thing to watch."
The crowd's conclusion was, as one kid shouted:
“That was amazing.”
What amazed Candy Jackson is how many people the eclipse brought to her hometown of 3,500.
"It's just all surreal to me,” she said. “Never had this many tourists in Winnsboro."
She’s a cashier at the Barn Express Buffet. She says Monday was probably the restaurant's busiest day ever.
A swathe of South Carolina fell in what's called the path of totality.
People had their reasons for choosing Winnsboro. Some said they thought it would be less busy than nearby Columbia – another prime viewing spot. For Angelique Bodin it was also about the money. She and her 13-year-old son traveled all the way from France to view the eclipse.
“I want to go to Charleston to see the eclipse but there are no bedrooms to stay in Charleston, so we chose a bedroom here in Fairfield Motel in Winnsboro,” she said.
She and her son tried to see the eclipse two years ago near Paris, but it was cloudy. So she promised her son they would try and see the next one. They came prepared with dark glasses and, like many here, waited a few hours for the eclipse.
Tara Smith and Keira Spring from Pennsylvania anticipated the two minutes of darkness with a ukulele and an appropriate song "A Total Eclipse of the Heart."