Fifty years ago this month, one small step for an Ohioan had implications around the world and universe.
On July 20, the world will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, which placed men on the moon. Ohio’s Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Jr. of New Jersey stepped onto the lunar surface and into history on that date.
Celebrations are being held around the globe to honor the event. Locally, the places to be are Bryan and Wapakoneta, home of the Armstrong Air & Space Museum.
In Bryan, a celebration will be held from 6 p.m.-midnight at the square.
Dave Schumm, co-organizer of the Bryan event, stated: “Fifty years ago, it seemed the whole world stopped and held its breath as they watched a human step foot on a heavenly body for the first time. We want to honor and recreate the awe of that historic moment.”
Activities will include a moonwalk contest, art exhibit, costume contest, re-enactment of JFK’s “We choose to go to the moon” speech, an Apollo 11 presentation, classic cars, life-sized astronaut cutouts and a kids corner. There also will be specially-created moon drinks and menu items at local restaurants, live music and more.
The Bryan Theatre will be showing the 2019 Apollo documentary. Everything will culminate with a commemorative ceremony followed by a “Moon Touchdown” as the Bryan Fire Department will lower a moon from its ladder truck as participants count down to 10:56:15 p.m. It is the exact time Armstrong’s foot first touched the moon 50 years ago.
“We think this moment in time, this anniversary of such a big event in our nation’s history, is the perfect opportunity for our community to gather, have some fun and remember what we can accomplish when we work together,” said Dave Brown, co-organizer of the event.
For more information, visit Bryan Ohio Moon Walk on Facebook.
The Armstrong Air & Space Museum, at 500 Apollo Drive in Wapakoneta, is having a 10-day celebration of Apollo 11, which began on Friday.
“It is a whole milestone,” said Dante Centuori, executive director of the Armstrong Air & Space Museum, about the 50th anniversary. “It’s one of the most significant events in history. It’s the first time a person walked (somewhere) other than Earth. Also anytime it is the 50th anniversary of anything is a time to celebrate.”
Centuori said that Wapakoneta is very proud to be the home of Neil Armstrong, and has been celebrating Armstrong stepping on the moon with the Summer Moon Festival for several years. This year things will just be bigger.
The event will feature interactive exhibits, tours, concerts, meet and greets with Ohio astronauts and more. Visitors to the anniversary celebration will get a chance to meet Mike Mallory, one of the “frogmen” who helped the Apollo 11 astronauts out of the capsule upon its return to Earth.
“He was one of the first frogmen to get to the capsule,” Centuori said.
There also will be several astronauts taking part in the anniversary celebration.
“We wanted to get a lot of astronauts for the 50th anniversary,” he said.
Astronauts set to appear include: Don Thomas, who has completed missions on Columbia and Discovery; Gregory H. Johnson, who helped with the mission to build the International Space Station and now serves as director for the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space; Robert Springer, who completed missions on Discovery and Atlantis; Michael Good, who took part in spacewalks to repair the Hubble telescope; and Sunita Williams, who has served as International Space Station commander.
Centuori pointed out that many of the astronauts are retired, but Williams is still active. She is scheduled to be on the first Boeing commercial flight.
“It’s exciting to have someone that’s going up again,” Centuori said.
Centuori said he hopes many people come out to enjoy and learn about the Apollo 11 mission during the 10-day celebration.
Those interested in attending the celebration have until July 21 to visit Wapakoneta.
Today, the museum will be open from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. There will be a photo opportunity with an Airstream trailer with Apollo quarantine on it from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Then an escape room will be held from 5 p.m. until midnight. Presale tickets only are allowed for the escape room, which will be held at several times during the celebration. For more information, call 419-738-8811 or visit firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Sunday, a statue and STEM center will be dedicated. The Airstream trailer will return as well. The Neil Armstrong STEM Inspirational Center will have an open house from 1:30-3 p.m., followed by a community picnic and summer concert from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Monday the museum will have normal hours and the Airstream trailer will return.
Launch day is Tuesday, with a countdown to the launch of the Apollo 11 starting at 9:32 a.m. There also will be a countdown to the moment the Apollo 11 left Earth’s orbit at 12:22 p.m. Mallory then will give his presentation about Apollo 11 at 1:30 p.m. Another escape room event will be held from 5 p.m.-12 a.m. too.
Wednesday and Thursday bring exhibit engagements and the Airstream trailer back, in preparation for the large-scale events.
On Friday, there will be NASA exhibits, visits from the Lima Astronomical Society, and a Mars Society Static Display from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. There also will be free inflatables, such as a shuttle, bounce house, slide and power jump; activities, corn hole, Luna Rover Display, corn hole and more from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The Toledo Zoo will have a show and activities from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. with balloon animals from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
It’s time to meet the astronauts starting at noon. Meet and greets for Good will be held from noon-1 and 3-4 p.m.; Springer from 4-5 p.m. and Johnson from 4-5 p.m. Mallory will also speak from 1-2 p.m., 3-4 p.m. and 4-5 p.m. a NASA live broadcast will be held from 1-3 p.m.
On July 20, there will be many of the same events held as on Friday. There also will be additional events such as a gyroscope ride and cannonball air blaster game from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and an Imagination Station demonstration from 3-4 p.m. There will be several meet and greets with the astronauts from 1:15 p.m.-5 p.m.
Thomas will have a presentation on the “Eagle Has Landed” from 4-4:30 p.m. and have a book signing from 4:30-5 p.m. Johnson and Mallory then will have a countdown to the first steps on the moon starting at 10 p.m.
On July 21, there will be a variety of events from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Visitors will hear from some of the astronaut’s other halves as a panel of astronaut spouses including Simone Thomas, Joan Good and Cari Johnson will speak from 11-11:45 a.m.
Springer will have a question-and-answer session from noon-12:45 p.m. Mallory will have a similar program from 3:30-4:15 p.m.
Rhonda Growler Green will give a presentation from noon-12:30 p.m., followed by a book singing until 5 p.m. Comedian and juggler Matt Jergins will perform from 1-1:30 p.m. and 2:30-3:15 p.m.
Closing out the night will be a concert by the Lima Area Concert Band from 5:30-8 p.m.
Organizers at both the Bryan and Wapakoneta events hope everyone comes out to celebrate this milestone of human achievement and have a “blast.”