With the solar eclipse just a day away, people from around the country flocked to Jefferson City Saturday to prepare for the two and a half minutes of totality.
Bobi Thornhill was relaxing under a tree next to her tent at North Jefferson City Park Recreation Area, reading a pamphlet that listed the events around the city. The Virginia resident said she is most looking forward to seeing a solar eclipse Monday, especially since she does not remember much from watching a partial eclipse several years ago.
"I've never seen a full eclipse, but I remember as a very small child seeing a partial eclipse. But I was so young at the time that I don't remember all of the details of it," Thornhill said. "This time, I'll remember. This is a once in a lifetime experience; it's like seeing Halley's Comet or something like that."
Megan Troesser, a maintenance worker for the Parks Department, said there were about 100 reserved campers, but the department was preparing for more campers arriving today by setting up overflow areas.
Thornhill will be camping with a friend from California and plans on attending the eclipse events happening over the weekend. She said she and her friend picked Jefferson City to view the eclipse because it brought back memories of when they traveled the country.
"Years ago, we set off to see America together. We quit our jobs and went around the country, and one of the places we came to was the middle of Missouri," she said. "After a little talking here and there, we said, 'Well, you know they're going to have the full eclipse in Jefferson City, and it's right near places we've been to and we both love the Katy Trail. So let's meet at Jefferson City.' So, we're going to have Virginia and California here, the two coasts meeting in the middle."'
On the other side of the park, 13-year-old twins Rachel and Adam Tjarksen, of Lake Bluff, Illinois, were helping their parents set up camp. The twins first looked up the solar eclipse when they were 6 years old and have since wanted to view it. However, when the family had trouble purchasing eclipse glasses, Adam Tjarksen found instructions online on building homemade eclipse viewers and made one out of an orange shoebox, foil, paper and tape.
Even though the family was able to purchase glasses eventually, Adam said he might still use his homemade eclipse viewer.
Sean Krikorian is the festival coordinator and part of Daily Plan-It, which is leading the organization of the Capital Eclipse Celebration with the Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau. He said they have been planning for more than a year and are expecting about 40,000 visitors. Even with the sharp influx of people though, Krikorian said they anticipate the festival will go smoothly.
Amanda Boesenberg, of Brooklyn, Iowa, plans on taking her sons to different events like the Total Eclipse of the Park, corn maze and carnival. She said even though Brooklyn would experience an eclipse, it wasn't going to be a full eclipse.
"Brooklyn is going to be 95 percent eclipsed, which sounds cool, but this is right before school starts, and I wanted to just whisk the kids away on a little mini adventure and experience something that they may never get to experience again. And it's something I've never experienced," she said.
Jefferson City residents and visitors were at various locations around town Saturday, including the Capital Eclipse Party downtown, where a flash mob erupted. Larinda McRaven — director of the Capital Thrillers, a local flash mob group — organized a dance to "Dancing in the Dark" by Bruce Springsteen. She said the group thought it would be fun to surprise the locals and visitors with the dance.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing for a lot of people, so we wanted to dance," she said. "It's nice to see a group of people come together, and I see a lot of local people that I know and I see a ton of people with backpacks, so I know that they're from out of town, and it's nice."
Across the river, a mini carnival was operating 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday. Josette Fuller, with Southern Fun Carnival, said attendance at the carnival at the North Jefferson City Recreation Area was slow early Saturday but picked up as the night went on. She said the heat most likely deterred people from going in the afternoon.
The carnival will be operating again today from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday.
Also Saturday evening was a 5-acre Eclipse Crop Circle Corn Maze at Fischer Farms in North Jefferson City by the Noren Access. The corn maze costs $5, and it will be open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. today and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday.
Both locals and visitors said they are worried about the possibility of rain Monday. The Weather Channel predicted partly cloudy skies with a 20 percent chance of rain as of late Saturday.
German Sanchez, a Texas native in the Army who is currently stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, had his tent and hammock set up at the recreation area. He said he was prepared if it started raining and wouldn't let the weather ruin the experience.
"It's a risk I'm willing to take," he said. "Missouri weather is very sporadic and random, but I don't want to risk not being here, assuming it's going to rain and then suddenly the sky clears up and the eclipse is totally visible and I'm nowhere nearby to experience it. Some kind of event like this, once in every how many years, I definitely wanted to take advantage of this rare moment to be able to experience it."
Eclipse-related event schedule
Camping, all day, North Jefferson Recreation Area, 927 4th St. Cost: $75; available Sunday and Monday.
Capital City Pedal Tours, tours begin at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. at Noren River Access. Cost: $25 per rider.
Breakfast with an Astronaut, 9:30-11:30 a.m., Capitol Plaza Hotel. Event sold out.
Scholastic Education Series, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Missouri State Capitol and Missouri River Regional Library, 201 W. Capitol Ave. Free.
NASA "Journey to Tomorrow" Exhibit, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Missouri State Capitol steps, 201 W. Capitol Ave. Cost: Free.
Solar Eclipse Programs, 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Missouri River Regional Library, 214 Adams St. Cost: Free.
Total Eclipse of the Park, 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Riverside Park, 1425 Riverside Drive. Cost: Free.
Mini Carnival, 11 a.m.-10 p.m., North Jefferson City by the Pavilion. Cost: tickets.
Eclipse Crop Circle Corn Maze, 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fischer Farms, North Jefferson City by Noren River Access. Cost: $5.
"E.T. The Extra Terrestrial," 5:30 p.m., 7 p.m., playing at the Capitol Cinema.
Eclipse Photography Meetup, 6-7 p.m., Spectators Bar & Grill, 232 E. High St.
Dark Side of the Moon Concert, 8-10 p.m., Missouri State Capitol South Lawn, 201 W. Capitol Ave. Cost: Free
Nighttime Telescope Viewing Meetup, 9-11 p.m., Missouri State Capitol, 201 W. Capitol Ave.
Camping, all day, North Jefferson Recreation Area, 927 4th St. Cost: $75.
Eclipse Gravel Ride, 8 a.m., begins at Red Wheel Bike Shop, 400 W. Main St., and rides through North Jefferson City. Cost: Free.
Power Up/Eclipse Watch Party, 8 a.m.-4 p.m., State Technical College of Missouri, Linn.
Jefferson City Capital Eclipse Festival, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., North Jefferson City Recreation Area, 927 4th St. Cost: $10 per car to park; free shuttle to downtown Jefferson City.
Mini Carnival, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. North Jefferson City by the Pavilion. Cost: tickets.
Eclipse Crop Circle Corn Maze, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Fischer Farms, North Jefferson City by Noren River Access. Cost: $5.
Missouri State Parks Capital Eclipse, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Missouri State Capitol, 201 W. Capitol Ave. Cost: Free.
NASA "Journey to Tomorrow Exhibit," 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Missouri State Capitol steps, 201 W. Capitol Ave. Cost: Free.
NASA TV, time TBD, steps of Missouri Supreme Court building, 207 W. High St. Cost: Free.
Eastside Business Association Viewing and Cookout, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Riverside Park, 1425 Riverside Drive. Cost: Free, with lunch available for purchase.
Total Eclipse of the Katy Trail, Rocheport to Jefferson City. The event is sold out.
Boy Scout Total Eclipse of the Sun Golf Tournament, 11 a.m., Jefferson City Country Club, 516 S. Country Club Drive. Cost: $250 per player, $1,000 per team of four.
Total Eclipse at the Park, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Rock Island City Park, Eldon.
Renegade Eclipse Watch, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Vivion Field, 1309 Missouri Blvd.
Total Eclipse of the Park, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m., Greenway Park, Holts Summit.
Capital Eclipse Celebration for Children and Teens, noon-1:30 p.m., Missouri River Regional Library, 214 Adams St. Eclipse viewing from 1-1:30 p.m. in Missouri River Regional Library Park.