26.9 C
Niagara Falls
Monday, May 20, 2024
Eclipse brings Toronto woman to tears at Konzelmann winery party
Jessica Kirkpatrick of Woodstock, Ont., and Carol Bailey from Mississauga snap a quick selfie at Konzelmann Estate Winery prior to Monday's eclipse. Richard Hutton
Day became night for a few brief minutes at Konzelmann Estate Winery when Monday's solar eclipse reached totality. Richard Hutton
Laen Hanson of St. Catharines, a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, fine tunes his camera settings prior to Monday's solar eclipse. Richard Hutton
Cloudy skies did not keep Stephanie and Michael Gatti of Phoenix, Ariz., from enjoying the eclipse via a smartphone app. Richard Hutton
Slava Pleraka and David Stout, both from Toronto, toast Monday's solar eclipse at Konzelmann Estate Winery. Richard Hutton

For the 100 or so people gathered at Konzelmann Estate Winery, it was almost a case of the solar eclipse that wasn’t.

But an audible cheer went up as the clouds parted and gave the briefest glimpse of the once-in-a-lifetime celestial event.

While people didn’t get to see the eclipse reach totality, some in attendance were impressed regardless.

  • Check back for updates and see The Lake Report on Thursday for full coverage, commentary, photos and video of Monday’s total eclipse.

Then, day quickly turned to night with only the glow of cellphone screens providing light. All got quiet except for the sound of birds chirping.

“It brought me to tears,” said Toronto resident Slava Plerako, who took in the event at the Lakeshore Road winery with her partner David Stout. “It was emotional.”

The pair had stayed over Sunday night in NOTL in advance of joining others at Konzelmann.

Admittedly, the couple were not feeling too optimistic about actually getting to see anything at all given the weather conditions. 

“We’re going to make the best of it,” Plerako said. “This was not a bad place to pick.”

Likewise, Jessica Kirkpatrick, from Woodstock, Ont., and Carol Bailey from Mississauga were also not feeling good about the chances of seeing much of the eclipse as the pair took selfies wearing their eclipse glasses.

“We’re a little bit disappointed,” Kirkpatrick said.

“But we’re still going to enjoy our time,” Bailey added.

But after the weather co-operated, even for the briefest time, the pair were singing a different tune.

“It was something,” Kirkpatrick said.

Bailey, meanwhile, said it showed how important the sun is to life on Earth.

“It showed you what it would be like if something happened to the sun,” she said.

“Could you have imagined what this would have been like with 100 per cent clear? It would have been amazing. It makes me want to chase eclipses.”

For Laen Hanson, Monday’s eclipse wasn’t just for pleasure.

As a member of the Royal Canadian Astronomers Association, he was there to document the event in photos. With his camera pointed at where it was expected that totality would take place, his disappointment was palpable.

“This is my first total eclipse,” he said. “It’s just the luck of the draw.”

But afterward, he was a little more upbeat. He was able to get a few photos when the clouds parted.

“I’m very happy. I got at least three or four photos in that 15 seconds or so when (the clouds) separated.”

Andrew Niven, director of marketing and hospitality at Konzelmann, said whether cloudy or not, the winery wanted to do something to help mark the occasion.

“We ‘re the only lakefront winery in Niagara, so we just wanted to kind of take advantage of it,” he said.

He said the event — guests were treated to a charcuterie box and a glass of wine for their $25 ticket — drew people from NOTL and beyond.

“We’ve seen reservations from Florida and there’s another couple from Boston,” he said.

Among the American visitors were Stephanie and Michael Gatti, from Phoenix.

“We caught the red-eye to be here,” Michael said.

“We even changed in the car,” Stephanie added. “We’ve only been in Canada for five hours.”

“I had to be here (in Toronto) for work,” Michael said. “We were in Niagara Falls earlier and it was crazy.”

With the cloudy conditions, the couple instead were tracking the eclipse’s progress of their smartphones.

“It’s beautiful out here,” Stephanie said.

Niven, meanwhile, said that whether or not Mother Nature co-operated, became secondary for the organizers. 

“For us, it was almost more about bringing people together in this space (and) less about the actual seeing of the sun, but still, it’s too bad.”

Monday’s total eclipse was the first one visible in Canada since February, 1979. The next one won’t be until Aug. 12, 2045.

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