One moment on our opening weekend
After years of work, planning, promoting, and passion, the John Glenn Astronomy Park is now open.
Our Grand Opening took place on a rainy Thursday afternoon, with 300 guests and lots of mud. I joked that it was like Woodstock.
After a respectable, but relatively modest, turnout Friday night, on Saturday the crowds flooded in. (Which was likely due to the literal floods having drained off the field.)
CAS volunteer Janet Dixon spent a good chunk of the day from just after noon until the last Fun Bus full of folks taking a tally of folks that either drove up (earlier in the evening) or who came on the Fun Bus (after 7:00-ish when the workers finally finished up at Whispering cave) and she reached 487.
Add to that 487 the folks that walked over from the cabins (many) and those who she missed while she was put on telescope duty in the early afternoon, and we likely had 600 or 700 folks last night.
Astonishingly, this was pretty manageable. Though we advertised the "programs" for 5:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m- I didn't notice much of a bump at those times. People simply wandered in continuously. As such, there was not just one program at each time, but a continuous cycle of them the whole evening. (I suspect that this will be the best way to do things in the future.)
We had 11 dedicated, talented, and cheerful volunteers, and some very helpful ODNR and park folk helping out as well.
Though the entire weekend is kind of a blur for me (and my voice is gone this morning), one moment stood out as particularly meaningful to me.
In the afternoon at around 6:00 or so, just after I did the 35th iteration of what I've been calling the "90-second tour" of the Plaza, I overheard a beautiful little five (maybe 6) year-old girl say to her dad... "the sun is small..."
[I pranced over and asked her if the sun was really big (spread my arms) or small (made a pinch with my fingers).]
"Okay then [I prance across the plaza way away from her] do I look big or small?"
[I prance back and put my face right up to hers and say, goofily] "Am I big or small"
"Big!" [She laughs]
[I repeat] "Am I big or small"
"Small!" [Again she laughs]
"Am I >really< small?"
"Yes! Uh... oh. No... No! You're not really small, you're just far away!"
[I prance back]
"Am I really big or really small?"
"You're the same size but you're really close!"
[I see, in her face, the light turning on. It is painted in her eyes and tiny, tanned, cheeks. She gets it.]
[She turns to her dad, and says, verbatim, words that are burned into my brain right now...]
"The sun is really big, but it just looks small because it's far away!"
[But she doesn't stop there. She is glowing. She proudly announces, without any prompting from me or Dad...]
"And the stars are REAAALLLY far away, so they're realllly small!"
[I had to turn my head to choke back the tears of joy.]