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ACAP...Lighting the Way Events Set to Mark Solar Eclipse and 60 Years of Community Action in America

With a once-in-a-lifetime total solar eclipse happening in Aroostook County, Maine on April 8, Aroostook County Action Program has planned a day of events that begin before sunrise, and will culminate late afternoon at the time day will briefly turn to night.

A pre-dawn mountain climb to greet the first rays of sun in the United States and mark 60 years of Community Action in America, sun themed luncheon, activities for children enrolled in programs, and glow party are set to take place. 


The activity is part of a specially themed eclipse and mission-inspired year at the non-profit social service agency captured with the catch-phrase “ACAP… Lighting the Way.”  The messaging, and related community awareness building about all that ACAP does, is designed to coincide with the coming celestial activity, but more importantly reflect on the work to advance economic and social mobility that the agency leads or supports for people and communities in the largest geographic county east of the Mississippi River.


The eclipse celebration is also part of a nation-wide, year-long commemoration of six decades of impact Community Action Agencies have had across the nation, a milestone anniversary being recognized in 2024.  It was in January 1964 that President Lyndon Baines Johnson declared “an unconditional war on poverty,” and in August of that year that he signed into law the Economic Opportunity Act, which among other programs led to the formation of what is now a network of over 1,000 Community Action Agencies nation-wide.


The day will begin in the early pre-dawn hours when ACAP’s Chief Executive Officer, Jason Parent, and Chief Operating Officer, Jamie Chandler, climb Mars Hill Mountain, located on the easternmost edge of Aroostook County along the border with New Brunswick, Canada.  With an elevation of 1,660 feet, Mars Hill has the designation, for the better part of the year, including April 8, as being the first place in the United States to catch the rays of the rising sun.  Sunrise on April 8, 2024, on Mars Hill happens at 5:56 a.m.


“We plan to welcome the nation’s first light live on ACAP’s Facebook page to both mark the start of the historic eclipse day for the region, but also to commemorate the work Community Action Agencies have done nation-wide for 60 years, and do each day “Lighting the Way” for people across the United States,” said Parent.


Activities continue throughout the day at various ACAP locations across Aroostook County.  Teachers in Early Care and Education Classrooms from Fort Kent to Dyer Brook are planning special learning activities with their students, both indoors and outdoors, in advance of the eclipse which will happen between 2:20 and 4:40, with totality happening around 3:30.  Team members at Agency Customer Service Center locations region-wide will celebrate with glow parties at the time of the eclipse as darkness sets in while wearing special eclipse glasses and “ACAP… Lighting the Way” t-shirts provided to all staff, along with glow sticks and glow bracelets.


ACAP Team Members and children attending early care and education programs County-wide will be treated to either a specially themed meal or snack prepared by Agency cooks and volunteers.  The breakfast for lunch meal will include solar cheddar cheese omelets, Aroostook eclipse hash browns, over-the-moon pancakes, and sunrise fruit salad.


“It is a workday for our team, and all Agency programs and services are happening as scheduled on Monday, April 8, but we recognize this is a unique once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all of us to experience.  As a team, we wanted to make this a fun and memorable day for our staff,” said Chandler.  “We are most grateful to the team of employees from across the region that helped to plan and coordinate our activity, and to the professionals who work in classrooms and office locations across Aroostook County who will help make the day extra special for the young children they serve, and fellow employees they work with.”