December 4, 2021

Taking a leap back in time

Cortland to celebrate Apollo 11 moon landing, memories of 1969

Neil Armstrong/NASA via AP

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin Jr. poses for a photograph beside the U.S. flag on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission July 20, 1969. Aldrin and fellow astronaut Neil Armstrong were the first men to walk on the lunar surface with temperatures ranging from 243 degrees above to 279 degrees below zero. Astronaut Michael Collins flew the command module.

Hopscotch, hula-hooping, tie-dye and a walk on the moon — it was 1969.

That year, some of the memories and the landing on the moon will be celebrated over five days this week.

“One of the things people could ask themselves is, where were you July 20, 1969?” said Bonnie Quackenbush, the planner of Lunar Landing and Flying Machines.

The events Tuesday through Saturday, mainly downtown Cortland, are meant to take people back to July 16, 1969 — the day Apollo 11 took off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida and to July 20, 1969 — the day astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong took the first steps on the moon.

But the event is more than just the moon walk.

“It’s a lot of harking back to the simple pleasures of the 1969 summer,” Quackenbush said.

There will be trivia, moon-landing-themed drinks at various bars, rocket making, hula-hoop contests, moon pies and moon mapping.

The details

Visit for more information on events planned in Cortland

Some events include:
• Toddler time lunar themed readings for kids up to age 2 from 10:30 to 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Cortland Free Library, 32 Church St., Cortland
• 1969 theme trivia night from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Center for the Arts, 72 S. Main St., Homer
• UFO Town Hall meeting with UFO-logist and data scientist Cheryl Costa at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Center for the Arts in Homer
• People can play hopscotch, hula-hoop, make kites, draw with chalk, play in a sprinkler and more Saturday on Court Street in Cortland.
• Rocket making, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at County Office Building, 60 Central Ave., Cortland. Kits are $13.

“I just think Cortland deserves more reason to come to downtown Cortland and enjoy our local businesses and each other,” Quackenbush said. “I plan to go to every single one of the establishments and drink every single one of those cocktails, mind you not in one swell swoop.”

In Dryden, plans to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing have been canceled at the Southworth Library after a speaker for an event on Saturday could not confirm being able to make it.

But kids have already been celebrating and learning all summer, said Librarian Diane Pamel.

“We had kids clubs that were doing space camps,” she said. “They’re building rockets and looking at different aspects of living in space, space travel and more.”

The library has a NASA @ My Library grant, meaning the library-goers have access to equipment provided by NASA. For International Observe the Moon Day in October, the library received lunar rock samples for people to look at as part of the program.

“It’s our overriding theme for our program,” Pamel said. “It just tied in really well. It’s been great.”