People from all over the United States and more than 25 countries around the world gathered to share a once-in-lifetime experience Monday.

Eclipse chasers and locals alike looked to the sky in a moment of unity as the total solar eclipse gradually darkened the sky over Johnson County. People looked up as more and more of the moon darkened the sun until total darkness fell for 4 minutes and 2 seconds.

Darkness falls in Frankin

Hundreds of people cheered and clapped as the moon fully dimmed the sun.

Among them, a family of five clapped and cheered as the temperature dropped, the sky darkened and the planets came out over the Amphitheater. Lance and Courtney Johnson had taken their oldest daughter Madelyn to see the 2017 solar eclipse in Missouri but she was too young to remember it well. Now with son Cameron and daughter Alexandra, they saw the sun disappear and reappear before their eyes.

“We don’t get to see it (often). We have to wait a really long time to see something so amazing,” said 8-year-old Alexandra Johnson.

They were among the hundreds in Franklin and millions across North America to witness the solar phenomenon offering a glimpse of the sun and the moon that few have the chance to see.

“You get to see a part of the sun that you never get to see – the sun’s atmosphere. It makes the moon look like a ball on fire – that’s what I think is so cool,” said Lance Johnson.

The Audiffreds clapped, cheered and took photos as the moon blocked out the sun. Oscar Audiffred said it was a moving experience and the crowd seemed to come together during totality.

“It was amazing. We had always heard about the eclipse and we missed the last big one. And seeing it live for the first time was just amazing — an awesome experience,” the Chicago resident said. “When it happens — the totality — you feel something that you can’t explain. It brings tears to your eyes.”

Imke and Ralph Dressler came from Tennessee to see the eclipse. It was breathtaking, almost indescribable, Imke Dressler said. Being able to view the eclipse with so many others was a spiritual experience, she said.

Eclipse in Edinburgh

“That is so cool!” rang out through the streets of downtown Edinburgh, as everyone watching the total solar eclipse vocalized their wonder in unison.

Darkness settled over the town, as the temperature dropped and wind picked up. Street lights went on, and stars and planets were visible in the sky. Someone in the town set off fireworks, and waves of cheers kept going up.

For four minutes, Edinburgh residents and the visitors they welcomed stared upward in wonder. Then, the sunlight was back.

“It was pretty neat,” said Chaz Chiafos, a Monticello resident who had come to Edinburgh to create a special eclipse-themed chainsaw sculpture. Along with others from Indiana Carvings, throughout the morning, he turned a log into an artistic blend of the sun and moon.

Brian and Angie Pine had come to downtown Edinburgh with their two daughters, Evelyn, 7, and Olivia, 5. Afterward, they described the eclipse as “pretty cool.”

They weren’t sure if their kids quite understood, but they’re glad they could witness it.

“They might have been a little too young to totally comprehend it,” Brian Pine said.

Angie Pine added, “They were just excited to be part of it.”

What brought people here

Like many people the Daily Journal spoke with today, the Johnson family from Chicago weren’t planning to come to Franklin today, but they’re glad they did. With cloud cover predicted in Indianapolis, they changed course to Franklin, Courtney Johnson said.

“Then we found Franklin, and the nice part is — it is in Johnson County. Our last name is Johnson, so I thought ‘this is meant to be,’” Lance Johnson said.

The Hayden family has been planning a trip out of the 2024 eclipse for nearly four years. They’ve made the once-in-a-lifetime events a tradition for their family. This will be their third eclipse viewing together, Amber Hayden said. In 2017, they visited Rigby, Idaho, and in 2023 for an annular eclipse they visited Ely, Nevada.

There’s a particular energy that comes with the eclipse — spiritually, emotionally and socially, Hayden said.

“There’s also some beautiful phenomenon that just come — the earth compares to the moon, the earth compared to the starts. I mean we’re gonna be able to see like five different planets when the totality happens,” Hayden said. “So all of that combined just makes it this very unique experience. And to be able to enjoy it with tons of people that, they may be here for a different reason, but this is special.”

Of course, the eclipse wouldn’t be as special without her family making it all the more sweet, Hayden said.

A family from Mississippi and Louisiana didn’t know they’d end up in Franklin for the eclipse until this morning. Last night, they arrived in Kentucky unsure of where they were going for the event.

“We didn’t exactly know which way to go depending on the weather,” Mark Brock said. “We just wanted to be on the line, and we just shot for here.”

Though Franklin wasn’t their initial choice, the Audiffreds found a hidden gem in the city.

“We loved being here it was a great experience seeing it here,” Anna Audiffred said. “My husband thought we would get a better view here than in Chicago. It was great, everyone has been so warm and friendly. We think we are coming back again.”

Jim Bin from Atlanta, Georgia, was one of many eclipse enthusiasts who set up their cameras with solar filters on the Johnson County Courthouse lawn. He chose Franklin because the weather here looked like it could provide perfect viewing for the eclipse.

Livia Wang, of Chicago, came with a group of friends who had been planning to come to see the eclipse for about a year. It’s the second eclipse the group has seen together, they also visited Carbondale, Illinois, in 2017.

They planned to see the eclipse somewhere in Central Indiana and chose Franklin today after doing “a lot of homework” to ensure the view was as good as they could get.

“It’s a very nice little town. I didn’t expect to see something like this in the middle of Indiana,” Wang said.

What did locals have to say

A carnival atmosphere had taken over downtown Edinburgh Monday morning, with families slurping on lemon shake-ups and waiting in line for grilled hamburgers. Everywhere you looked, people were sporting souvenir eclipse-viewing shirts made for the event.

Vendors were selling beaded jewelry and eclipse-adjacent goods, such as Moon Pies and space-themed toys.

In Franklin, food trucks and vendors selling souvenirs were set up to provide relief to shops and restaurants as hundreds crowded into the city.

For one of those vendors, Franklin resident Sherri Spall, the total eclipse marked the opportunity for a new venture — selling clothing.

Spall’s booth at the Eclipse Market featured a variety of shirts, but one of the most popular was “Total Eclipse Hysteria.” A play on Hoosier Hysteria, the shirt features a basketball as a moon traveling over the state. It also has a “Totality Bracket” on the back with Indiana cities listed in a March Madness-style bracket.

The eclipse market booth marked the first time Spall has ever done anything as a vendor she said. She decided to venture into making shirts because she was unable to find a design she liked for herself.

“I just designed my own,” Spall said. “And then it went pretty well with friends and family, so I’m like, ‘We’re doing this,’ so I ordered a bunch and made a booth.”

Everyone who came to the booth has been super nice, she said. She saw visitors from as far as Utah, along with Missouri and Wisconsin, she said.

Down in Edinburgh, Selah Fisette carefully held her paintbrush in small hand, focusing on keeping the green paint inside the lines.

The 5-year-old girl from Flat Rock had come to Edinburgh’s art-themed Eclipse Festival; her work would now be a part of the town’s history for good.

Selah Fisette, 5, paints part of the eclipse mural while her mother, Lashana Fisette of Flat Rock, watches in downtown Edinburgh on Monday, April 8, 2024. Edinburgh’s Eclipse Festival drew visitors from around the country to the town, in addition to many local residents. Ryan Trares | Daily Journal

As part of Total Eclipse of the Art, Edinburgh officials had worked with Whiteland artist Chelsie Liberati to create a postcard-style mural recognizing the celestial show. For the past few weeks, Liberati had been painting a bulk of the mural on the side of the building housing Sakura Event Center and Rental Venue.

But she had included some paint-by-number aspects to allow the community to take part on eclipse day as well.

“It’s my favorite part to see it come together,” she said. “You can see everybody getting excited and wanting to have some ownership in the painting. It’s a great opportunity.”

Liberati had stationed herself in a tent off to the side of the mural project, providing cups of paint and brushes in addition to speaking with visitors to the town.

Being part of such a historic event has been special, she said.

“It’s such a great moment to be a part of,” she said. “The eclipse is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I’m so excited to be part of this event and share this memory with everyone.”

Daily Journal editor Leeann Doerflein, news editor Noah Crenshaw, senior reporter Ryan Trares and reporter Jayden Kennett contributed to this report.