Video and photos: Portage County perspectives on the 2024 total solar eclipse

Below are the testimonies and photos of Portage County residents who viewed the total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024.

At the garden club of Kent eclipse event held at the Ode to Joy on Ravenna Road Streetsboro/Kent. Video courtesy of Don Sewell from the Garden Club of Kent

My husband and I watched from our back deck in Kent. While I was curious, I wasn’t really too excited until it started. I’m grateful we got to experience this together.

My first thought was the realization that this will be the only total eclipse I will ever see and it made me sad. Then I was awestruck at how vast this universe is, how difficult it is to comprehend and how I don’t think we’re even meant to. Everything we were watching was happening with and on these huge masses that are floating in space but all my brain could comprehend was blue sky.

As totality got closer, it wasn’t like sunset where the day’s yellow glow gently transitions to the dark night. The “transition” went from eery haze to what seemed like a white spotlight to dusk.

We’re lucky to have a ton of wildlife in our back yard but during the few minutes of totality, they all disappeared and the birds stopped chirping. Apart from neighbors cheering and one firework (lol), it was noticeably silent. As the light returned, so did the wildlife – back to chirping, chasing each other around, foraging…as if nothing had ever happened. 🙂

A group of maybe 20 or 30 were at the Davey Elementary School football field and playground in Kent. We (the Kenyon-Steele Family) had brought a white sheet, colander, viewing box and fancy camera – others brought baseballs, frisbees, and footballs. It was an amazing community time with folks sharing whatever resources they had, oohing and aahing together, hugging, running, shouting, all the things. It was so lovely to spend time with neighbors new and old as we experienced such an amazing event together. Huge shout out to Main Street Kent for the full weekend of activities and creating such a great place to hang out all weekend. I will never see the sky the same way again. 

My wife and I sat in lawn chairs in our driveway in Rootstown and the thought went through my mind what a great spectacle our creator has given us.

Thought you might be interested in a different view of the solar eclipse from a screenshot of my solar panel production yesterday

At 50% , at totality, minutes after totality—from top of our driveway in The Pines off Diagonal Road, Franklin Township.

We observed the eclipse from Bobolink Circle in the West Twin Lakes area of Kent in Portage County. After obsessively looking at the weather forecast for days and checking for cloud cover all morning, we sat in lawn chairs in front of our garage on the driveway with our neighbors and friends visiting from Canada and my sister from San Francisco starting at 130pm. We were struck by how much of the sun had to be covered before we began to feel colder and see the difference in the dimming light. We saw a beautiful “diamond ring” before and after the totality and a corona with a distinct red spot on the rim. A few frogs started peeping during the totality and the birds stopped singing. The frogs stopped singing and the birds started singing when the totality was over. My sister left right after the eclipse ended at 430pm to get to the airport in time for a 9 pm flight because a horrible traffic jam was predicted. However, there was little traffic and she ended up having a few hours to wait at the airport instead. A satisfying and awesome experience to share with friends and family.

Totality happened at 3:14 PM, and I took this picture at 3:15 PM to be sure I was safe taking my filter glasses off.

I was in my backyard with my dog watching the eclipse sequence, thinking it was turning out to be a lot less dramatic than all the hype was making it out to be. The sudden twilight that happened at totality took me so by surprise that I gasped and could only repeat “OMG!” Dramatic indeed!

Venus is captured at about the 5:00 position in my picture. Jupiter and comet Pons-Brookes were visible also at about the 11:00 position (and at a similar distance as Venus) at the eclipse, but cloud cover must have been too heavy to capture them.

Judi Zala

My daughter and two of their friends came from out of state tomview the eclipse. They’d all been together in NC to view the 2017 one. We made no special plans and realized that as the trees in my yard are still leafless, we could view it from the driveway and avoid crowds. With glasses on we oohed and awed, and when totality arrive, became silent—as did the birds. Dogs throughout the neighborhood barked their concern, however. I am sorry I will miss the next one that other Ohioans will view.

Iris Meltzer

We were at our Streetsboro city park watching the eclipse and were sitting next to a group of 5 people who drove in from Pittsburg to watch it. When we got home our neighbor to us the streetlights came on and that the birds stopped chirping.

In our backyard enjoying the frogs briefly starting up their spring nighttime chorus albeit briefly…very cool

Ken Christensen

What an amazing experience to witness such a spectacular show with family in a country back yard in New Franklin Ohio. To see the changes in the activities of the birds and the at the total coverage heard the crickets, felt the temperature drop and witnessed a beautiful Corona with a Flare. It was totally eerie and exciting all at the same time. We were in awe!

I watched from my backyard. During the totality my dogs starting howling!

They said the birds would go quiet, and  they did, but a rooster crowed and the spring peepers started singing! Marie Stehli, Mantua

What an experience the eclipse was 

Family came in from Maryland so they could experience the totality. Grandsons were excited to see it. They kept looking at the sun with the glasses on and then tell me all about it. 

They had me take picture with glasses over camera lenses. 

It was amazing to  watch the progression to totality then back out.

For me, the eclipse was a very communal experience. I met up with several friends to watch it together on the Kent State campus. We watched for half an hour as the sun was gradually covered, talking and joking. In the field next to us was probably over 100 people, with hundreds more at the student center plaza. When it reached totality, everyone started yelling and cheering – hundreds of voices all in one. The most fun part was when the totality was ending, everyone started booing as one! The feeling of looking up at the same sight with hundreds of people and knowing thousands other were elsewhere was so joyful.

I’ve attached a photo I took of myself with my friends, I got permission from all three of them to do so! Thank you for all your hard work doing local journalism!

-Jo Wilson

We were at home in Kent to have the experience with our dogs. My fiance and I sat and watched the entire eclipse.  When it started to get dark, our puppy became restless, off put by the surroundings. When totality hit, everything was silent. We didn’t hear birds, cars, or the construction near by. The sky felt like a dream, it didn’t seem real, it was so beautiful. The time went by so incredibly fast, the beauty of our solar system brought me to tears, taking my breath away. We saw the bright “diamond ring,” the Bailey’s Beads, everything I could have imagined and more. Absolutely stunning, I could not have asked for a more perfect moment. And just like that, it started to get bright. Birds began their morning song, and the solar eclipse came to an end.

I was with my husband on the back porch. It was majestic!! I didn’t think I would get so emotional. Truly, a once in a couple lifetimes experience!

April and Rick Vince, Aurora Ohio

We watched the eclipse in our backyard with three very excited and awed grandsons! 

Attached are two pictures taken in the backyard of our house in the West River neighborhood in Kent.

I joined my neighbors outside of College Towers while it was still a typical afternoon. Thry mostly kept their eyes to the sky, but I enjoyed looking around as the time approached. Seeing the sunlight slowly shift into shades of orange that felt unnatural, the creeping darkness your eyes can’t make sense of, the sudden chill in the air, the purple autumn twilight in the center of the sky now centered by the black totality of the moon. A shimmering ring of white holding it all together for a few moments before a spear of flame punctures the side and daylight washes back over everything, seemingly faster to reclaim the day than it was to surrender it.

Nice way to spend an afternoon.

I was in my back yard in Edinburgh Tshp. With my husband. It was the most spectacular thing we have ever viewed in our lifetime. Coletta Tomasik

What beautiful weather today! Perfect for the eclipse. I was mesmerized and watched till the bitter end.

Things I noticed:

The way the dimmer light became beautifully eerie a few minutes before and after totality.

How much the temperature dropped as the light diminished.

The cessation of birdsong in darkness.

The loudness of the spring peeps in darkness.

The clear definition of the corona outline.

The whiteness of the diamond ring effect.

The swiftness of the diamond’s disappearance.

The red spots around the corona rim — solar flares.

How much Nature loves roundness in its celestial objects.

How the whole time the Earth was moving and the moon was moving, yet the moon and sun looked like they were hooked together.

Thinking about what ancient people must have thought when this occurred, surprising and probably terrifying them.

How magical it was.

I felt so lucky.

— Mary Louise Ruehr

I was volunteering at an event at Streetsboro City Park.  We were passing out goodie bags and free eclipse glasses.  We had food trucks and crafts for the kids.  It was a great event and I think we had every bit of 1000 people enjoying themselves.  We had people from Washington, DC, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and both Carolinas.  

What a great atmosphere.  The eclipse itself was quite exciting and viewing the totality was really more beautiful than I was expecting.  So the whole time I was really in awe of the whole thing.

Very grateful to have experienced this and to have participated in such a positive event that brought so many people together.  

I am on the left with Eileen Fitzsimmons – who also serves on the Streetsboro Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee. 

Sheri (She/Her)

Towners woods. All alone. I felt tingly all over during totality. The waterfowl were loudest just before. Then they went into quiet mode, stopped flying, and grouped in large clusters on the water. Crickets got loud. Got this panorama!

The picture from our deck was taken by my cell phone. It was chilly, and windy, and the peepers were going crazy. The birds were chirping wildly when the sun began to reappear. I was surprised that we saw no deer.

I had an exciting afternoon with my people sitting in our driveway in Paris Twp watching the eclipse. The anticipation was so overwhelming I began to drool. When the eclipse reached totality, I was in awe, and then came the diamond ring. I’ll never forget this once in a dog’s lifetime experience.


Toby Babbey

The light one was at 3:09 and the dusky one was at 3:15. I was at Portage Park District’s Morgan Park on Rt 44. At the time of totality, the usually raucous red-winged black birds fell silent and the spring peepers reached full chorus. 

Quite the spectacle!

You asked. Here’s my two cents: We joined our neighbors for their eclipse party. Besides Portage County people we had people from Cleveland, Pennsylvania, and Baltimore!

It was an AWESOME day! With all of the hype about will it be cloudy, will it be clear, the weather was BEAUTIFUL!! We felt the temp drop at least 10 degrees. Our granddaughters’ chickens ran for the chicken coop but it got light again before they made it to their roost! After the eclipse was over it was time for corn hole.

I watched/listened to the animals while sitting outside my front door in Hiram. A squirrel came right up to my chair (would never happen normally). Birds were agitated, then got quiet. Temperature dropped about 10 degrees. All in just a few minutes. Great experience!

J.S. In Hiram

Totality is a moment I will never forget! 

Pictures can’t do it justice. You just can’t believe how dark it gets and so quickly!

Dave Dreimiller

+ posts

Ben Wolford is the editor and publisher of The Portager.

[email protected]