• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Hundreds come to castle for eclipse

MONDAY'S near-total solar eclipse captured the imagination of most of the county, with people viewing the celestial event in numerous local places. (Photo by Bill Caine)

LANDON JONES of Nicholasville used a paper plate with eclipse lenses inside eyeholes to make it easier for his two-year-old son, Parker, to view the eclipse. (Photo by John McGary)

UK STUDENTS Kate Cox and Tyler Mertens were among the hundreds who took in the eclipse Tuesday at CastlePost, most of whom watched it from the roof of the castle. (Photo by John McGary)

For many of the hundreds of people who spent the afternoon at CastlePost Monday, the day featured two unprecedented events: a near-full solar eclipse, and being inside the castle. Guests and members of the general public began arriving around noon and spent much of the afternoon there, enjoying hors d'oeuvres and various libations in an atmosphere not unlike that of a low-key Kentucky Derby party. Some, like Lynn Metz, came a long way. Metz, a Connecticut resident, had traveled here to see her daughter, a student at the University of Kentucky, and to get a better view of the eclipse. After she learned her daughter had received an invitation to the castle, she decided to watch the eclipse there, rather than alongside a road in Western Kentucky at or near the eclipse's totality. "The castle is absolutely gorgeous. We've never been here before. I didn't even know you could stay here," Metz said, adding that her son would be attending a wedding at the castle this fall. Back home, her husband, who's in the soda business, had come up with new flavors like "Obscured Orange" and "Corona Cola" to celebrate the eclipse. "It's a nice party spirit, and I like the music and hors d'oeuvres and the bar - it's wonderful," Metz said. As the moon came closer to obscuring the sun a few minutes after 2 p.m., Versailles residents John Whitehead and Kacy Jones looked up, while remembering their other visit to the castle last October, when they were married. Whitehead said they'd noticed interior improvements made by Versailles Catering, LLC, which bought the castle and surrounding property last month from longtime owner Tom Post. Room 205, which was open to the public Tuesday, was where they stayed the night of their wedding. Asked which day was more of a once in a lifetime - their wedding or the eclipse - Jones laughed and said, "He'd better say it was the marriage." Whitehead quickly agreed. "It's definitely the marriage. A lot of our friends were so envious ... the ones who unfortunately didn't get invited, because we could only invite so many, were very envious of the wedding at the castle. It's kind of like a dream come true for anyone," he said. A few feet away, WLEX-TV reporter Leigh Searcy, a Versailles native, was working with photographer Jason Candy. Between live shots, she said she was having a blast, and that there was no place she'd rather be. Most everyone there seemed to agree with that sentiment. By the time the moon had covered 95 percent of the sun, the sky had darkened, though not as much as many expected, and the temperature had dropped nearly 10 degrees. Kate Cox of Lexington and Tyler Mertens of Madisonville, both UK students, marveled at the sight and setting. Asked which meant more to her, Cox said the eclipse. "Because that's not something you can easily come back to," she said. As the sun began to be uncovered by the moon, Erika Carter, a teacher at Southside Elementary School, said she'd had a wonderful afternoon. She said last week, she'd discussed the eclipse with her second-grade class, and that some of her students were a bit leery of it. Asked what she thought of the eclipse and the place from which she viewed it, Carter summed it up with one word: "Fun!"

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