Visitors don't let rain dampen spirits while viewing eclipse at Fort Pulaski

CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - Hundreds of people battled rain and clouds to watch the eclipse at Fort Pulaski National Monument on Monday.

Park rangers estimate between 300 and 500 locals and tourists came to Fort Pulaski for the eclipse on Monday. Park Ranger and Chief of Interpretation Joel Cadoff said visitors came from as far away as Pennsylvania and Arizona.

"When you come out to Fort Pulaski, you may just be expecting a fort, but there's so much more that we can get to, especially environmental science," Cadoff said. "The eclipse was a wonderful way for us to really engage not only adults but children coming out with those parents."

Debbie and Phillip Basso were two of the visitors to Fort Pulaski. They lived in Savannah for 13 years and jumped at the chance to come back from their new home in Tampa, Fla. For them, taking some time off work and a trip to Savannah to see the eclipse was a no brainer.

"This hasn't happened in 100 years, and I'll never live to see it again like this," said Debbie Baso. "This is phenomenal. I mean, who would want to miss this?"

Based on the number of cars she saw on her drive up from Tampa, not many.

"The traffic was bad, especially when we got to 95 off of I-10," she said. "The traffic was bad. You could see it building and building, and then just so many cars getting off at the Savannah exit. I said, 'Oh yeah. They're here too.' I can't blame them."

Tara Suggs said her trip here was totally unexpected, but completely worth it.

"My car broke down just a little outside of Savannah, but it turned out to be a good opportunity," Suggs said. "I get to see, look back on this in a couple years when my niece and nephew are old enough to understand what's going on, and kind of explain it to them."

Fort Pulaski's "Off the Path" eclipse event featured junior ranger activities, arts and crafts and ranger-led eclipse science and history programs.  Savannah mom Ashley Andel said having those educational activities available to her two children, 5-year-old Cayden and 2-year-old Kylie, is a big reason she chose Fort Pulaski as her spot for the eclipse.

"I was kind of bummed that they canceled school because I figured it would be educational for them to be at school during it," Andel said. "Now I'm glad I get to spend that time with them and teach them and see their reactions to the eclipse."

Those reactions and experiences at Fort Pulaski remind Cadoff why he's a park ranger.

"I mean, this is why I got into this job," he said. "I get to see all sorts of people, not only from Savannah, but from the Southeast, other places in the country, and they're enjoying the park, enjoying not only our cultural, but our natural history. It's why I'm a park ranger."

The Basos say this won't their last eclipse if they can help it.

"They say there's going to be another one in 2047," Debbie said. "I hope I'm here to see that one too. We will be. We'll be here. If it's here, we're here."

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