The first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in almost a century swept across the United States Aug. 21, a cosmic experience that brought together millions of people and cast the Postal Service in a unique role.
In towns and cities of all sizes, USPS employees sold commemorative stamps, offered special postmarks and joined excited customers in witnessing history.
“The eclipse has been an amazing event,” said Rhonda White, Postmaster in Lusk, WY, one of the communities in the “path of totality” where the moon completely covered the sun for a few minutes.
This 70-mile wide shadow began in Oregon shortly after 10 a.m. PDT and zoomed across 14 states, ending in South Carolina around 2:47 p.m. EDT.
Many communities hosted festivals that drew both curious locals and out-of-town enthusiasts. The Total Eclipse of the Sun stamp was often a popular purchase at these events, where employees reported long lines of customers eager to snatch up the big day’s smallest souvenir.
“I can’t believe this line. It has been this deep all day,” said Retail Associate April Burger as she served customers at an event in Jefferson City, MO.
Special ceremonies were held in other communities, including Salem, OR, where USPS presented Gov. Kate Brown with framed stamp artwork.
The Postal Service helped spark eclipse fever when it released the stamp in June, and the organization’s prominent role continued through the delivery of eclipse-related merchandise last week.
The Springdale, AR, Post Office reported a spike in package volumes when Explore Scientific, a manufacturer of special eclipse viewing glasses, turned to USPS to ship its orders.
It wasn’t all business, though.
Across the nation, postal workers with a few extra minutes on their hands gleefully took time Aug. 21 to gaze in wonder at the eclipse — and the magic that accompanied it.
Employees on their lunch break at the Scottsville, KY, Post Office were amazed to go outside and see street lights turn on and hear crickets chirping as day suddenly turned to night.
It was “a once-in-a-lifetime event,” said Scottsville Customer Service Supervisor Tommy Allen.