Desoto County News

Olive Branch ‘parties’ for the eclipse

Photo: Olive Branch eclipse party goers line the track waiting to for the solar eclipse to begin on Monday, April 8. (Bob Bakken/

City officials in Olive Branch are proud to know that they can do a lot for their residents. But they might have met their match when a phone call into the Mayor’s office Monday morning, in all seriousness, asked if they could move Monday’s Solar Eclipse Watch Party at the City Park to another day, when it wouldn’t be so cloudy. Yes, this was an actual phone call.

The city couldn’t move the party as they couldn’t move the solar eclipse, the rare occurrence when the moon finds its way during the day to completely block the sun from view for a short few minutes. Monday’s solar eclipse was the closest to “totality” of the sun, when the moon completely blocks the sun from view.

The last total solar eclipse in North America took place in 2017, when parts of the United States, from Oregon to South Carolina, were able to view it.  

The path of totality for Monday’s eclipse stretched from Texas to the East Coast, with cities like Dallas, Texas; Buffalo, New York; and Burlington, Vermont, having some of the best views. Areas of Arkansas, as close as Jonesboro, Arkansas, were also in the path of totality, when the moon completely blocks out the sun.

Olive Branch, DeSoto County and areas of the Mid-South, while not in the path of totality, found themselves pretty close to it at 98 percent, and that was enough to hold a party around the track at Olive Branch City Park, said Jay Nichols, City Communications Director.  

Food trucks with food and refreshments were on one side of the running track, and tents on the other side featured information from the city, the police and fire departments, and others.  There were special eclipse glasses handed out to make viewing the eclipse safe to the eyes.  

“We’ve also got the Mississippi Moon Festival performers here with their band,” Nichols said. “We have live music throughout the entire time that we’re having a party.”


What started as a cloudy morning turned into enough of a partly cloudy sky that allowed viewers to see the sun get “eaten” by the moon. Nichols said the idea for the eclipse party came about as a way to get people together. 

“Jen (Griffith) with our communications department brought it to me and then we took it to the mayor,” Nichols said. “I asked him what he thought about it and he was on board with it, so we decided to put together a solar eclipse party.” 

It wasn’t the only gathering of “eclipse watchers,” going on Monday, but likely it was the only official event held in the county done specifically to watch the solar event. Schools got glasses for their students to step out and watch it during the day, the Olive Branch library had tables and chairs set up outside for people to come watch the eclipse, and others just took a moment wherever they were to watch something in the sky that doesn’t happen all that often.

In case you want to make travel plans for the next solar eclipse, the next one will occur on Aug. 12, 2026, but it will be viewable from the Arctic, eastern Greenland, northern Spain, and Iceland.

You might say there was also a “rain date” for today’s eclipse, but it was a few years out… as in August 2044.  That will be when the next total solar eclipse crosses the United States.