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Apollopalooza: 50 years in the making
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By Joshua Pilkington

The year 1969 has been brought up a lot in 2019. It marks the 50th anniversary of the world’s most notable music festival - known in modern times as Woodstock. It was the year in which The Beatles made their final public performance on the roof of Apple Records, and it marked the first ever flight of the Boeing 747 jumbo jet.

All of those pop-culture events pale in comparison, however, to July 20, 1969 when Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins successfully landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on the moon’s surface as part of the Apollo 11 spaceflight.

More than 600 million people worldwide witnessed Aldrin take “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” That is nearly six times as many people than watched the far less impactful Super Bowl XLIX in 2015 (the most-watched program in modern television history, according to Nielsen TV Ratings) and it occurred in an era when only 58.2 million households in America had a television (compared to 119.6 million in 2018).

“I believe it was one of the most impactful - if not the most impactful event of the century - said Dawn Wilson, 64, who watched the lunar module land with the rest of her family at her uncle’s residence in Riverside, Calif. “I was old enough to understand the impact of the event and what it meant for the world. It was a new horizon and we watched it unfold before our eyes.”

With Saturday, July 20 marking the 50th anniversary of that new horizon, events are taking place around the country in honor of Armstrong’s first steps and the successful Apollo 11 mission.

One week-long event that is sure to entertain space enthusiasts young and old is Apollopalooza at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum. Starting Saturday and running through the anniversary date of July 20, Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum will host a week-long regional celebration in honor of the moon landing and future space exploration.

“When Neil Armstrong uttered those famous words ‘One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind…,’ a generation of young Americans had met the challenge given them by Presidents Kennedy and Eisenhower,” stated in a release, Apollo 17 astronaut and geologist Senator Harrison H. Schmitt, one of many keynote speakers that will make an appearance during the celebration. “Since that historic event, much has stayed the same. Constants have been humanity’s hunger for the unknown, for expanding our reach for new homelands and freedoms, and for new understandings of our solar system and universe. Even as geopolitical challenges have grown, so has our sense of adventure and will to go above and beyond. Apollopalooza is a manifestation of the excitement and critical importance of the new ocean of space opened by the 450,000 men and women of Apollo. I am honored and privileged to be a part of Apollopalooza.”

Each day of Apollopalooza will feature a lineup of keynote speakers and activities. Some of the highlighted speakers include Dr. Amanda Hendrix from the Planetary Science Institute and an Apollo-veterans panel discussion.

Activities for youth will be available to including the community-friendly STEAM For All Festival which will keep visitors engaged with hands-on STEAM activities dedicated to getting children and parents involved in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

The STEAM For All Festival, which begins Sunday at noon and culminates at 4 PM, will also features workshops from the Forbes School of Business and Technology as well as keynote speakers and a talk and author signing with Laura Roettiger - author of “Aliana Reaches for the Moon.”

Named a 20 best aviation museum around the world by CNN Travel, Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum is located at 7711 East Academy Boulevard in Denver. For a full schedule of events for Apollopalooza visit





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