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Photos: Total solar eclipse leaves Dayton-area residents, visitors in awe

two girls watch the eclipse wearing glasses outside
Kaitlin Schroeder
Families gather at the Greater Dayton Rec Center to watch the eclipse.

Crowds of both residents and far away visitors gathered around the Miami Valley on Monday for the total solar eclipse.

While it was well known ahead of time what would happen — a few minutes of daytime darkness — the rare phenomenon still left many in awe.

"I knew it was going to be complete darkness, but it just took me by surprise," said Megan McDaniel, shortly after totality had passed.

Ted Greer drove in from Kentucky to Dayton, parked outside the Greater Dayton Rec Center, with a telescope equipped with a hydrogen alpha filter, allowing him to safely watch the eclipse.
Kaitlin Schroeder
Ted Greer drove in from Kentucky to Dayton, parked outside the Greater Dayton Rec Center, with a telescope equipped with a hydrogen alpha filter, allowing him to safely watch the eclipse.

Along with the crowds came enormous prep work to keep people safe and roads running.

Montgomery County activated its Emergency Operations Center in Miamisburg as a precautionary measure. The center was manned by many specialities, such as public works and engineering, fire and EMS, and health and medical.

“We are expecting visitors to our county due to the eclipse,” said Montgomery County Commission President Debbie Lieberman, earlier Monday before the event. “While we hope no issues arise as a result of the number of visitors in our area, we would rather be prepared and not utilized than unprepared when there is a need.”

Long travels

Some visitors described to WYSO traveling from far away cities, from North Carolina, to New York, to Florida.

This includes a family of five that drove in over 10 hours from Poughkeepsie, New York, to set up camp for viewing outside Carillon Historical Park. This was their second eclipse viewing, with the first in St. Louis in 2017.

"I remember that we were making glasses with plates. You put the glasses up to the plates and cut out little holes for the eyes," said Sydney Lucas, who is about to turn 12, recalling her first eclipse experience.

three teen children and a mom and dad pose in matching shirts saying "twice in a lifetime" with a photo of an eclipse.
Kaitlin Schroeder
The family drove to Dayton from Poughkeepsie, New York, to witness their second total eclipse together. Sydney Lucas, who is about to turn 12, said said she remembered putting a cut paper plate over her glasses last time.

Each member of the family work a shirt saying "twice in a lifetime" to commemorate the experience.

Rare event

It’s been a little over a century since Ohioans have observed an eclipse like this.

The next total solar eclipse in Ohio will be in the year 2099. According to state leaders, only 21 total solar eclipses have crossed the lower 48 states in the entire existence of the United States.

Noah Mitchell, watching from Dayton, said he had been waiting in anticipation for the day to come.

"It's just a once in a lifetime opportunity and just seeing everything just get dark and all the lights turning on like it was crazy," he said. "It was surreal, really. Nature doesn't charge admission either, which is awesome."

Mitchell also says he noticed some solar flares that were visible.

In Dayton, they appeared like little orange spots around the corona of the eclipse.

Over in Springfield, which also was in the path of totality, Janine Adams says the process of the eclipse was also special, like other natural features are to witness.

"So I saw the rainbow the other day. It's that type of moment. You try to capture it. You can't. It's a vapor after that," she said.

Adriana Martinez-Smiley (she/they) is the Environment and Indigenous Affairs Reporter for WYSO. They grew up in Hamilton, Ohio and graduated from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism in June 2023. Before joining WYSO, her work has been featured in NHPR, WBEZ and WTTW.

Email: amartinez-smiley@wyso.org
Cell phone: 937-342-2905
Kaitlin Schroeder (she/her) joined WYSO in 2024 with 10 years of experience in local news. This includes Dayton Daily News, Dayton Business Journal, the Morning Sentinel in Maine, and KosovaLive in Pristina, Kosovo.