Staff and participants of Community Living celebrated the August 21 solar eclipse. For all of us, it was our first total solar eclipse, as the last one took place 99 years ago!
For staff and participants at the Mahon Center, one of the four Support Services for Adults centers, they made a full day out of it. Some attended Dardenne Prairie’s Dark in the Park event, while others stayed at the center and participated in themed activities.
Kelly Imboden and Judy Mahon, Direct Support Staff, accompanied Judy and Allison, participants at the Mahon Center, to the Dark in the Park event, which had music, a bounce house and vendor booths. They also packed picnic lunches, which included moon pies and cheese balls, to represent the moon and sun.
Prior to the event, staff read articles about what would happen during the eclipse and practiced wearing the safety glasses. However, since no one has sat through a total eclipse before, they could not prepare the participants for how dark it would get. “I noticed it didn’t get dark like night, but instead dusk like it does when a bad storm rolls in,” Judy Mahon, said.
Because most of us associate dusk with the time before bedtime, Allison wasn’t too pleased with the eclipse. “I did not like it,” she said. “I do not like when it gets dark.” When staff prepped the participants about the eclipse, Allison mentioned to Judy Mahon that she does not like the moon because then she has to go to bed. Thankfully, the darkness didn’t last long and soon Allison was back to enjoying her day. Her favorite part of the day was the bounce house.
During the event, Kelly noticed Judy independently looking up at the eclipse with her safety glasses. She noticed the sounds of cicadas and stars in the sky. “It is so beautiful I could just cry,” Judy said.
For those that stayed at the Mahon Center, which was not in the total eclipse path, they decorated the safety glasses with suns and moons and then reenacted the solar eclipse. They also played solar bingo. The eclipse was streamed live so those that didn’t want to go outside could still partake in the event. “It was an overwhelming experience,” Jessica Cain, Manager at Mahon Center, said. “It was amazing to be able to witness it.”
The pre-event prep seemed to work for the most part. Most everyone understood what would take place and seemed excited to be a part of it. Amanda, participant at the Mahon Center, enjoyed the event so much that she sat outside to eat her lunch as to not miss anything. “It was cool,” Amanda said.