Everyone was looking up. Raising a glass of Arnold Palmer tea and lemonade, Navy veteran Charles Remick, 91, of Great Neck, surveyed the crowd at Hudson’s on the Mile on Monday.
For many, the solar eclipse was a first-time experience, but this was the second one for Remick. When he was just 8, living in West Virginia in 1935, he said, he remembered seeing the moon pass in front of the sun.
“I thought it would be great to see the solar eclipse again, this time with my daughter,” he said. “I don’t remember a great deal of what happened that day, but I do remember the crowds of people wanting to see, and I got to see it through a glass.”
Donning eclipse glasses and with the help of his daughter, Tina Sobell, 47, of New York City, Remick looked up at his second eclipse, and was wonderstruck. “I drove Dad here because we didn’t want to miss today,” Sobell said.
For an afternoon, Freeporters were sky-gazers. A group of 20 watched the progress of the first total solar eclipse visible from coast to coast in the U.S. in 99 years from the new deck at Hudson’s. (On Long Island the eclipse was only partial, with 71 percent of the midafternoon sun obscured.)
The astronomical event attracted throngs of people to the Nautical Mile who hung out at local restaurants, on the Esplanade or at Seabreeze Park, and looked up through special glasses provided by the local businesses or brought from home. By the time the sun was partially concealed, the temperature had dropped and a cool breeze had picked up.
Taking a day off from work to share the experience with his family, Ross Schiller, 47, of East Meadow handed his 12-year-old son, David, a pair of glasses. “This is a great viewing spot,” David said of Hudson’s, looking skyward. “It’s so cool.”
In Seabreeze Park, 25-year-old Roosevelt resident Marian Juste laughed as she put on her homemade eye protectors. Unable to procure a real pair, she had taped four pairs of sunglasses together.
“They work,” she said with a laugh. “… I figured near the water would be a nice place to see the eclipse. It’s cool to be a part of it.”
Freeporter Ercie Rodriguez unfolded lawn chairs in the park with her family and friends visiting from New Jersey. Sharing a single pair of safe glasses, the group of eight marveled at the sun as the moon moved in front of it.
“I didn’t think that in my life I would have experienced something like this,” Rodriguez said. “Not a lot of people got a chance to see this.”
Many who milled around the Nautical Mile were only too happy to share their glasses with anyone who didn’t have a pair. Strangers stopped one other on the street to ask if they’d had an opportunity to see what was going on in the sky.
The next solar eclipse is expected in 2024.