Aliens, witches and time travelers: just another day in NYC’s Washington Square Park outside of a solar eclipse

A witch, a time traveler and an alien-enthusiast walked into Washington Square Park for an otherwise typical day in Manhattan on Monday — save for the solar eclipse that happened to be cresting overhead.

Such characters were just a few of the more than 1,000 people who ended up in the Greenwich Village park during the rare moment.

“I got ready for it. I got these glasses. But otherwise, it’s like a normal day for me, but it seems like it’s a big deal to people. There are a lot of people out here, more than normal,” said 27-year-old Keion Kopper, an artist who specializes in paintings of aliens — and was holding out hope some extra-terrestrials might reveal their hand in the celestial event.

People gathered to watch the eclipse in Washington Square Park in Manhattan on April 8, 2024. LP Media for NY Post
A crowd gathered at Sheep’s Meadow in Central Park. Stephen Yang
A girl looking at the sky while wearing protective glasses. Stephen Yang
People lining the street during the eclipse on 6th Avenue. Billy Becerra / NY Post
People watching the eclipse at Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn. Gregory P. Mango

Viewers began gathering in the park hours before the Big Apple’s near-totality around 3:25 p.m., when the city was plunged into cool semi-darkness as the moon blotted out about 90% of the sun and cast its shadow over the Earth from the city’s vantage point.

Everything to know about the 2024 solar eclipse

  • The solar eclipse will take place Monday, April 8, blocking the sun for over 180 million people in its path.
  • The eclipse will expand from Mexico’s Pacific Coast across North America, hitting 15 US states and pulling itself all the way to the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.
  • New Yorkers will experience the solar eclipse just after 2 p.m. Monday.
  • A huge explosion on the sun, known as a coronal mass ejection, is anticipated, according to experts. This happens when massive particles from the sun are hurled out into space, explains Ryan French of the National Solar Observatory in Boulder, Colorado.
  • To avoid serious injury to the eyes, it is necessary to view the event through proper eyewear like eclipse glasses, or a handheld solar viewer, during the partial eclipse phase before and after totality.
  • The next total solar eclipse will take place on Aug. 12, 2026, and totality will be visible to those in Greenland, Iceland, Spain, Russia and a small slice of Portugal. 

“What if the moon stops right in front of the sun? That would be different,” Kopper said.

Leaning casually against a table alongside a display of his alien art, Kopper estimated about a 15% change that aliens have something to do with the eclipse.

“I wouldn’t be upset. I’m not against it,” he said. 

People in glasses looking up on Norfolk Street in Manhattan. James Messerschmidt
A man taking a picture of the eclipse with his phone in Central Park. Stephen Yang
A group watching the eclipse while wearing tin foil hats. Stephen Yang

Tina Pina, 60, a self-described “Mexican witch,” came out bedecked in special eclipse attire — and hoped that the event would bring about a hitherto unseen harmony between mankind and the cosmos.

“This is my solar eclipse outfit,” she said. “I’ve got my moon and my star prop, and I’ve got my witch’s hat with the sun and the moon and glittery gold collar that I made.”

Pina, who prefers to go by the name MotherPigeon, also showed off her “really funky” eclipse glasses, which she fashioned into something resembling a beaked Venetian mask.

Tina Pina, a “Mexican witch,” preparing for the eclipse at Washington Square Park. LP Media for NY Post
Pina said she hopes the eclipse brings harmony between mankind and the cosmos. LP Media for NY Post

“I made the whole thing, of course,” she boasted.

Pina, a folk artist, said she thought the eclipse could be just the celestial moment to bring humanity and the universe itself together at last.

“I think that everything that is in my heart, as far as my true loving self, will fall in alignment with the consciousness of the universe,” she said, adding that if the opposite comes true, things were good while they lasted.

People gather at the Edge overlook in Hudson Yards ahead of the NYC solar eclipse on Monday afternoon Getty Images

“If it is the beginning of the rapture, which I don’t know much about, then great. I thought the earthquake was fun and exciting,” she said of the temblor that shook the city last week.

“It’s a fun time to be alive,” Pina added.

Nick Picknally turned 33 Monday and said he thought the eclipse falling on his birthday was an auspicious happening – for him, at least.

Two set up a telescope at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. Gregory P. Mango

“Honestly, I’ve never felt more powerful. Truly,” he said before watching the eclipse with friends, “I’m glad that everybody is excited about it because it’s a fun event.”

Picknally, a bartender who regularly sees the best and the worst of New Yorkers from behind the taps, said he’s seen some wild behavior mounting in the build up to the eclipse.

“I’ve already seen crazy things happening since the earthquake. I’m a bartender so I’ve seen a lot of crazy people. It’s like it shook a lot of crazy people up,” he said. “Just attitudes and like the weirdos are coming out of the woodwork.”

But at least one New Yorker remained unimpressed by the practically once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse viewing, which will not be repeated to the same degree in the city until 2044.

People waited in line to get into Green-Wood. Gregory P. Mango

“It’s a natural occurrence,” said a shrugging 101-year-old who went by Doctor Who and insisted he was a time traveler.

“It has nothing to do with my life. It’s just another distraction from what’s happening in the economy and what’s happening in America. America is in trouble, and they use anything to distract us.”

 “I am a time traveler. I am just here observing.”

Skeptics and oddballs aside, retired New Yorker Elain Kinney, 81, summarized the feelings of many more typical eclipse-watchers as she stretched out in Washington Square Park to marvel at the occurence.

“I’ve never seen one, and it’s a gorgeous day out, so why not?” she said.