Electric Co-op hosts eclipse-viewing crowd


People gathered on the lawn of the Cullman Electric Cooperative to view the historic eclipse. / Nick Griffin

CULLMAN – The Cullman Electric Cooperative hosted a viewing party during the eclipse on Monday for families and spectators of all ages to come out and enjoy the historic event. The day began with a presentation on solar energy and what it would take to harness it efficiently. Communications Manager Brian Lacy thought the presentation was appropriate considering the theme of the day's event.

"We figured with it being a solar eclipse and us having a pretty good crowd here it was a really good opportunity for us to talk a little bit about solar power because that’s something that is growing in popularity and a lot of people have questions about it," Lacy said. "They've heard about it but don’t really know how it works and what they really don't know is how much it costs. We've been trying for several years to just educate our members so that if they decide that solar power is something they want, they are educated and have all of the facts."

Getting enough glasses for everyone to safely view the eclipse was a problem all over the country, and Cullman Electric Co-op was not immune to the excitement that grew for the eclipse as it approached.

"When we first came up with this idea, it was before this sort of eclipse hysteria had started across the country and we hadn't heard of anyone here locally that was doing an event, so we said let's do an event. So we ordered some glasses and shared on social media that we were going to do this and the response was overwhelming," said Lacy. "We decided that we were still going to give out our glasses for free but we had a very limited number of them so we gave them out on a first come, first serve basis. In hindsight if we had known how big of a deal it was going to become, we would've tried to order more to satisfy everybody."

The Co-op easily gave away all of the glasses they ordered but they were able to accommodate everyone that attended with or without glasses. They had a live video stream of NASA's solar eclipse coverage inside and began to lose count of the crowd size after all the glasses had been given away. Even once the glasses were all gone they had a way for people to create their own devices to view the eclipse.

"We had a little station in the back where kids could make their own eclipse viewfinders using either a cereal box or a shoebox and had all the materials there and some instructional videos back there for them. I would think we probably had around 200 people that showed up and probably a lot more that came and left when they found out we were out of glasses."

The day at Cullman Electric Co-op was an educational one for those interested in the progress of solar energy and a mesmerizing one as everyone gathered on the lawn to see the eclipse.

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