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Solar eclipse party in Syracuse, NY
Photograph: Shaye Weaver for Time Out New York | the Solar Party in Syracuse, NY

I saw the solar eclipse in totality Upstate—and it was unforgettable

Parts of Upstate New York, like Syracuse, were in the path of totality. It was incredible.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver

Along with thousands of others this weekend, I made the trip Upstate to catch the solar eclipse in totality—meaning the moon completely blocks the sun—and witness something I may never have the chance to see again. After all, it was the first total eclipse over New York state in 99 years!

And yes: it was totally worth it.

The totality of the eclipse on Monday flew across a 100-mile wide path—including spots like Jamestown, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Watertown, Old Forge, Lake Placid and Plattsburgh—just after 3:15pm and ended just before 3:30pm.

I worked with I LOVE NY to set up in Syracuse at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown and stake out my spot at the Solar Party on Solar Street, an eclipse-viewing party with food trucks, drinks, music, and free glasses from Destiny USA (the largest mall and entertainment center in New York) and 92.1 The Wolf. 

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Starting before noon, the city turned out to Inner Harbor to wait for the eclipse to begin. Clouds continued to roll in, and the crowd started to wonder whether the whole eclipse would be a bust. But as hundreds more joined the party waiting on the green, the clouds began to break up enough to give little peeks of the moon creeping into the sun’s path.

Every time the clouds cleared and the sun-moon mashup peeked through, the crowd went wild. “You’ve got this!” someone yelled to the sun.

Solar Eclipse Party in Syracuse NY
Photograph: Shaye Weaver for Time Out New York

Just after 3:20pm, the clouds miraculously parted just enough to give us a view of the entire phenomenon. We all watched as a tiny sliver of sunlight got smaller and smaller before hiding behind the clouds again.

The sky grew dark in the west as if a massive thunderstorm were moving in. It looked as if the sunset were all around us. Seagulls around the water started squawking and the temperature dropped.

Someone started blasting “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” Then, as the sky turned a deep, dark grey, the eclipse burst through a hole in the clouds.

It was an indescribable feeling. We saw whisps of the sun’s corona poking out from behind the perfect circle seemingly cut inside it. It was gorgeous and terrifying. We all took it in, mouths agape, and the sun began poking out around the moon to create what’s called Baily’s Beads or a “diamond ring.” 

“The best advice I ever received is to be in the moment,” says Lindsay Raychel, a media and content strategist at Visit Syracuse, who was with us. “To hear the people cheering when the sun was peeking out of the clouds and went it went completely dark in the middle of the afternoon … it gives you goosebumps. There were so many things to experience at the same time. There’s nothing like it.”

Solar Eclipse in Syracuse NY
Photograph: Shaye Weaver for Time Out New York

Raychel says she and Visit Syracuse have been talking about the eclipse for the last three years and seriously planning for it a year prior.

“I thought it really wonderful to see so many people out exploring the, city walking the Creek Walk and walking downtown. I saw so many out-of-town license plates. Hotel parking lots were full. Just to know all these people were here was heartwarming. It’s amazing that it happened in our backyard (we didn’t have to travel anywhere). It’s like having a big party with tens of thousands of friends from all over the country.”

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