'Spectacular' total eclipse leaves North Americans spellbound

Eclipse mania gripped North America on Monday as a breathtaking celestial spectacle captivated tens of millions of people, offering a rare blend of scientific interest, commercial opportunity and daytime partying.

The Moon's shadow plunged the Pacific coast of Mexico into total darkness at 11:07 am local time (1807 GMT) then swept across the United States at supersonic speed, returning to the ocean over Canada's Atlantic coast just under an hour-and-a-half after landfall.

Festivals, viewing parties and even mass weddings took place along the eclipse's "path of totality," where the Sun's corona glowed from behind the Moon in a display that left crowds awestruck.

"It was spectacular. I had never witnessed anything like it," said Paulina Nava, a 36-year-old resident of the beachside Mexican city of Mazatlan.

People "screamed, they applauded, some were taking photos, others were kissing," she added. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who traveled to the city, called the event a "very beautiful, unforgettable day."

Thousands of miles away in downtown Montreal, Canada, office workers spilled out of skyscrapers to snap pictures with their eclipse glasses held to their phones.

"My heart was beating really fast," said 26-year-old Erica Park.

The path of totality was 185 kilometers (115 miles) wide and home to nearly 32 million Americans, with an additional 150 million living less than 200 miles from the strip, according to NASA, which ran a live webcast throughout.

 School closures, mass weddings 

Hotels and short-term rentals in prime viewing locations were booked solid for months in advance across states including Texas, Arkansas, Ohio and Maine.

In Ingram, Texas, at the Stonehenge...

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