West Michigan turns out for solar eclipse

A toddler using a welder's helmut to safely view the eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017)

HUDSONVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — Monday’s solar eclipse was arguably the biggest celestial event of the 21st century, and many people in West Michigan took the opportunity to experience it.

In Hudsonville, hundreds of people joined the masses to watch the eclipse. For people like Roderick Kreuzer, it was déjà vu.

“We didn’t have the glasses at that time,” he said as he recalled watching the 1979 solar eclipse.

Kreuzer taught science at various Christian schools in the area, but got a new kind of glimpse this time around.

“We used the pinhole arrangement to see the eclipse then,” he told 24 Hour News 8.

Jack Starks was also a returning solar eclipse viewer and he, too remembers experiencing the phenomenon without special shades.

“They were advising people to use the box with the white sheet of paper with the tin foil, punch a hole with your pen, and view it that way,” Starks said.

>>App users: Click here to replay of a livestream of the eclipse

Like many others in the crowd, Starks was still wowed by what he saw Monday.

“It’s great that I’m still around to view it again,” he said. “That’s cool.”

The Gary Byker Memorial Library gave away free eclipse glasses and also offered several other family activities.

As the process began to end, everyone’s attention turned elsewhere in the sky. A special drone delivered ice cream to cap off the event.

In East Grand Rapids, clouds prevented people from seeing the some of the eclipse. There, crowds spend much of the time waiting for clouds to clear.

“I’m bored,” said Delilah Rootes, who along with her brother, Gideon, passing the time playing on their mom’s phone.

The clouds were moving in and out Monday afternoon.

“I see the sun a little bit, like a little, tiny glimpse,” said Taylor Sytsma, as she looked through her homemade projector crafted out of a cereal box.

When the clouds cleared, it made the quick glimpses of the eclipse even more amazing and the crowd cheered. And then it came time for local peak totality. While it got darker and the temperature dropped in East Grand Rapids, the clouds moved in, preventing people from seeing the eclipse.

“I was kind of because bummed because [I wanted] to see the whole thing,” said Maxwell Bas. “But, today was a great day.”

“I thought it was amazing, beautiful,” said his mom, Carolyn Bos. “There is nothing like nature.”

The eclipse began at approximately 12:58 p.m. local time, peaked at about 2:22 p.m. and will end around 3:43 p.m.