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'I'm ready for something spiritual:' Total solar eclipse welcomes watchers from across the world

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TEXARKANA - A total solar eclipse passed over North America Monday, sparking travel across the United States and internationally.

For many, it was the first total eclipse they've ever seen. Others welcomed the familiar friend and sought out the chance to see another.

In Texarkana, the sentiment was heightened for the town in two states. Street fairs and solar celebrations during the weekend led up to the actual eclipse. As folks gathered to watch, strangers turned into old friends chatting about where they came from, and where they were headed to watch the light show.

Business owner Jill McMahon set up shop on the viewing path, selling everything from t-shirts and mugs, to selfie ring lights with the “Solarbration” logo.

Each sale included a set of solar eclipse glasses. McMahon said customers have literally come from around the world.

“It's been crazy. It's been non-stop,” McMahon said.

For many travelers the goal is to experience what’s called totality — the point at which the moon completely blocks out the sun. The Landry family and its matriarch, Ms. Hebert, is from Baton Rouge they say the word totality has become a running joke during their car ride, as they chase the full experience.

"I'm ready for something spiritual to happen,” Hebert said.

The travel isn’t limited to the United States. Another family traveled all the way from France, but this wasn’t their first total eclipse. In fact, they've seen so many, they’d consider themselves experts.

Their first eclipse was in France in the 1990s, followed by treks to Spain and Libya in 2005 and 2006, respectively.

"It's a great opportunity to discover the U.S,” they said. “And for our little one as well, it's his first time in the U.S."

As travelers shared their stories, many shared their favorite eclipse memories. Robert Blake and his wife Diane Blake are from the New Orleans area and after seeing the partial eclipse over Louisiana in October, Diane said she immediately booked hotels in Texarkana for their eclipse trip.

"I remember one in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the 1970s,” Robert Blake said. “We did the little shoebox, poked a hole, and tried to look at it that way."

The Blakes said this time they’ve got the glasses, and they’re ready to experience the eclipse in totality, together.


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