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Jonesboro gathers to see the ‘experience of a lifetime’

Eclipse viewers at Central Baptist Church in Jonesboro.
Rebecca Robinson
Eclipse viewers at Central Baptist Church in Jonesboro.

After months of preparation and anticipation, eclipse viewers around Jonesboro gathered to watch the “Great American Eclipse.”

The partial eclipse began at 12:37 p.m. with the total eclipse reaching Jonesboro at 1:55 p.m. Some began claiming their spots around town as early as 10 a.m. at Joe Mack Campbell Park.

The EAB Eclipse Viewing Party was hosted at the park for the public. The event had free eclipse glasses, prizes, entertainment, and food.

Alieen Fujikawa, an eclipse goer, traveled from Virginia. Her family members traveled from Georgia and Hawaii to all be together.

“We thought we would gauge it and Jonesboro wouldn't be as crowded as Little Rock or Hot Springs. We drove through there yesterday and it was nuts. We thought let's try to go somewhere out of the way and have room to spread out,” Fujikawa said.

Fujikawa said after seeing the 2017 eclipse in Memphis, her family wanted to view this one together.

“It was amazing. We have multi-generations today. My sister and her kids are here, and my mom and I just wanted to experience it together. It’s awe-inspiring. Who knows what our lives will look like for the next time, that’s why we gathered up today.” Fujikawa said.

Other eclipse goers gathered at Central Baptist Church. Krista Lacefield from Jonesboro was one of the viewers gathered at the church.

“I’m here with my husband. It’s a nice day to get out, it's a social event and to watch the eclipse together,” Lacefield said.

Dr. Steve Emerson said he had been counting down the days for the eclipse to happen for 7 years after viewing it in Kentucky.

“Since that time I have been looking forward to this day. I’m so glad it’s a beautiful day,” Emerson said.

Emerson brought a couple of telescopes and lenses to safely watch the eclipse. He said he got into astronomy after taking a class in it at Arkansas State University.

“I’m most looking forward to hearing the people's audible sounds they will make when it turns to totality. I don't use the term awesome a lot but it is something people will be in awe of,” Emerson said.

A 2019 graduate of Sheridan High School, Robinson graduated from A-State with a degree in multimedia journalism in December 2023. In January 2021, while working toward her degree, she was named sports editor for The Herald, A-State’s student-run newspaper.