Screams, applause heard at The Cove during total eclipse

Exclamations of “Whoo,” and “That is awesome,” a few screams, a dog barking and applause all resounded at The Cove at Concord Park when the moon covered the sun at the height of the total eclipse around 2:33 p.m., Monday, Aug. 21.

“I guess I’m honored to be alive for this,” Knoxville resident Brandi Surplis said. “It just seemed like everyone quieted down and there was this feeling of being one with everybody, experiencing something together.

“To me, it’s emotional because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” she added, tears welling in her eyes. “I’m honored to be a part of it.”

Her service dog, a Chihuahua named Tango, had his own reaction. “He got really … weird, like he was searching for something, and then when everyone got excited, he started barking because he didn’t understand what was going on. He just had to protect his mommy,” Surplis said.

“It was totally awesome,” Donna Wilson-Renner said. “That is phenomenal. The thing that was weird is hearing the crickets, you know, like you do at night, while it was going on.

“I wish it lasted longer,” she added. “I was thinking it wasn’t going to be that spectacular, but it was awesome.”

“I thought it was wonderful. It was great,” Pat Parrott of Powell said. “I was looking for the diamond ring. I saw it. I was looking for the blue rays around it. I saw them, but I missed the snakes.”

“It was awe-inspiring,” Gettysvue resident Shawn Cumerford said. “You know, you look up at the sun and it’s black with this bright, bright ring about it. It’s pretty amazing. I’m so happy. I got to see it with my daughter [Sophia]. She’s 11, and it is really a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

A crowd estimated between 1,200 and 1,500 made Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett’s viewing party at The Cove their destination place to experience the solar eclipse.

As the darkness descended, someone whistled then said, “Here it is.”

And, there were exclamations of , “I can’t believe we’re sitting in the path of totality…”

“Look at that!”

“Oh, my gosh!”

“Do you see the red?”

The action started about 1:03 p.m., when the moon began to cover a sliver of the sun.

“[The sun’s] gotten a little bite out of it already, Parrott said.

Then a blanket of gray started settling in around 2:01 p.m. while the park became shadier.

“The temperature’s cooling,” Travis Ferguson of Knoxville said. “It started off today at 90 degrees. Now it’s about 85.”

“It’s crazy now. It’s not as hot. The temperature changed,” said Jacob Slater, who came from Pennsylvania.

Observers came from as faraway as Thailand.

Within the United States came those from Arizona and New York.

Darnell Yonung and his daughter, Jenny, stopped by on their way from Yuma, Arizona, to Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, where Jenny will be attending this fall.

“We looked at the map, did some research and the mayor posted he was having a party here,” said Sam Borderea, who arrived from New York City with Max Borderea. “This is such a beautiful spot, and everyone has been so nice. It’s a nice little road trip.”

The party included live music, water stations, a food truck and recreation on the water.

Attendees brought blankets, chairs and canopy tents.

“I had to see the total eclipse,” said Pinehurst, North Carolina resident Mike Hansen, who came to The Cove with Wendy Hansen.

“We didn’t want to see just part of it — North Carolina would have been a 95 percent eclipse … and possibly cloudy,” Wendy said.