First row (l to r): Charay Palmer, Mike McDonald, Bonnie Flynn, Ron Flynn. Second row: Connie Stellhorn, Paul Coons, Shawn Stanton. Third row (far back): Dan Hassard. (Christi Vineyard Photo)
Volunteers representing the Egyptian Board of REALTORS® in southern Illinois got a front row seat for the 2017 solar eclipse when they volunteered to help with parking and water distribution at Bald Knob Mountain, south of Carbondale along the path of totality.
At 1,034 feet above sea level, the mountain provided eclipse viewers a 360-degree unobstructed view of the event. The nonprofit organization, the Bald Knob Cross of Peace, rented of eclipse viewing space at the top of the mountain to eclipse enthusiasts.
“More than 730 people watched the eclipse at the Bald Knob Cross of Peace,” said Christi Vineyard, administrative assistant for the Egyptian Board of REALTORS®. “We saw license plates from California, Texas, New York, Colorado, Florida and Wisconsin. There was even a group from Australia. There were probably others, that is just what I witnessed while directing traffic early that morning for a couple of hours.”
EBOR also donated nearly 6,000 eclipse glasses to 13 area schools so that students could watch and learn about solar eclipses: County of Union School District No. 43; Anna Jonesboro CHSD 81 School District; Dongola School District 66; Shawnee Community Unit School District; Buncombe Grade School, Cypress School District 64; Goreville Community Union District 1; New Simpson Hill School District 32; Vienna School District 55; Carbondale Elementary School District 95; Giant City Community Consolidated School District; Elverado Community School District 196; and Desoto Consolidated School District. Three counties closed schools Monday for the eclipse: Johnson, Union and Jackson.
“Not only did we want to help with Bald Knob Cross of Peace’s (fundraising) efforts, we also wanted to provide area schools the tools allowing students to safely view this unforgettable event,” Egyptian Board of REALTORS® Association Executive, Charay Palmer said. “We want to show members of the community that we are not just interested in buying and selling real estate. We care about what’s going on in our communities.”
Volunteers included: Cindy Bevis, Teresa Camarato, Paul Coons, Bonnie Flynn, Ron Flynn, Dan Hassard, Marianne James, Mike McDonald, Shawn Stanton, Connie Stellhorn, Phil Chiles of Springfield, Peggy Chiles of Springfield, Palmer and Vineyard. Emma Davis of Farmers Bank, one of the EBOR affiliates, donated bottled water on behalf of the bank.
“I thought the eclipse was awesome,” said Phil Chiles. “Day became night. What was amazing was how light it still was when only a small segment of the sun was visible.”
Impromptu plans work out
About 65 miles east, at the home of Egyptian REALTOR® Ayn Bartok, just outside of Eldorado, Illinois REALTORS® President-elect Matt Difanis was part of a group that enjoyed a great experience, too.
Ayn Bartok and Matt Difanis
“The whole trip was a last-minute thing. I had never seen anything like it,” said Difanis, president-elect, Illinois REALTORS®. “I was amazed by how well I could see it with no telescope and just solar glasses. I have heard many people from Central and Northern Illinois comment that it was not as impressive as they had hoped. My observation was that watching it get to 75 percent and then 90 percent – and even beyond – was still nowhere near as dramatic as that one to two minutes where the sun was 100 percent blocked. If you watched from anywhere outside the path of totality, it was a completely different – and much less dramatic – experience.”
Difanis said every member of his group thought the eclipse exceeded their expectations. In addition to the privacy of Bartok’s property, the cloudless skies made the experience even better.
“In addition to NOT being overrun with tourists in that spot, that location – quite a bit east of Carbondale – had no clouds obscuring the sun during the eclipse. We could see the sun during every second, whereas the tens of thousands of people gathered in Carbondale had clouds obscuring most of the action. . . . My 12-year-old son declared it one of the most amazing things he’s ever seen.”
Check out the photo gallery below, with contributions from Difanis, Vineyard and Illinois REALTORS® past president Phil Chiles.