by Jay Reynolds, CAA Observatory Director
June 22 — If you could not attend last night’s Lakewood Summer Solstice Celebration, it was something extra special.
The clouds dissolving into blue skies, a small crowd building into thousands gathered by the water’s edge. Without instruction, slowly quieting, to watch the magic that they had come for: a magnificent sunset. As the top of the Sun, disappeared, the quiet, polite, spontaneous sound of applause could be heard.
CAA was there.
Aside from all the “other” activities, the solstice steps and CAA telescopes were the most embraced by the crowd. At each scope, lines and lines to catch a glimpse of Sun and Jupiter! All while a “friend of the club” provided event drone coverage, with a requested emphasis on CAA.
Our friends at Channel 3 came out in force, with their drone, a live remote truck, a reporter doing a story on Lake Erie, and Michael Estime doing weather hits. Michael specifically pointed out CAA several times, with CAA, busy in the background doing what we do best! Our own Nora Mishey, specifically, in one of the “weather hits” to show how much fun she was having.
Last year was the first city of Lakewood Solstice event. Last year’s attendance estimates, by police, were 3000-4000 people. This year, Lakewood police estimated attendance… 15,000. They base that on Lakewood’s, usual Fourth of July attendance. Last night was equivalent. Not all 15,000 were by us, or the steps. At the Celebration’s peak, people were spread out over the entire park.
While we can only estimate how many actual people we served, attendance makes last night one of the largest non-dedicated astronomy events that we’ve supported. (Our largest dedicated astronomy event was 2012 Transit of Venus which 7,500 attended.)
Members were on their feet from 4:30 till 10:30 with no breaks, too many smiling people to speak with! As the evening progressed, you could hear the familiar sounds from telescope viewers expressing the happy appreciation of the views of our Sun, Jupiter and its moons. Of course when Saturn came into the scopes, you heard breathless disbelief and the question, “Is that a sticker?” “That can’t be” or the quiet statement “Wow!”
We can be proud of not only our representation, but the patience and kindness of our members. Even members who did not have scopes were engaging the audience and making sure visitors “got the most” out of it. Visitors were polite and showed outright appreciation and said thank-you a lot!
Finally, we earned the gratitude of Lakewood City Hall organizers and the mayor’s office. Not just gratitude but increased equity in our already good relationship. Organizers, and the mayor, expressed their appreciation so many times during the evening. At the end of the night, overwhelmed by such success, we were asked three times, “what can the city do for CAA?” Not something we generally hear after an event.
All this, is a demonstration of this organization, it’s who we are!