More than 300 people crowded into the lobby of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center to help celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing.
Eating cake decorated with a boot print of the first step on the moon, and sampling Tang ice cream, many in the crowd, like Cleyon Yowell, Hutchinson, could recall the moment they heard Neil Armstrong tell Mission Control, "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."
Yowell was at the University of Southern California in the summer of 1969, working on his doctoral thesis in physics.
"The professors and I had the TV on, and I thought it was amazing," Yowell said. He then went on to have a career in space communications with The Aerospace Corporation, which built satellites for the Air Force.
Niall Shanks, currently a professor at Wichita State University, was a 10-year-old outside Chester, England. A big event in his life, it warranted a trip to Hutchinson on Monday to take in the celebration.
"We were at a small hotel," Shanks said. "There was a Firestone plant nearby and the hotel bar was filled with expatriates who were celebrating the great achievement."
Shanks was recording his memory on video, which will be preserved in the Cosmosphere archives. He recalled that he was too young to be in the hotel bar, but he heard the celebration, which went on all night. He never went outside to look at the moon that night. He said, "Being in England, it was all cloud cover."
Chris Orwoll, president and chief executive officer of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, recalled being a 5-year-old, lying on the living-room floor with his chin propped up in his hands, enraptured by the grainy image on TV.
The anniversary was a big enough historic celebration that Loretta Smith, Topeka, came with her two daughters and two grandchildren to tour the Cosmosphere.
She was a 20-year-old bride watching the event in her Topeka living room on July 20, 1969.
"It was pretty incredible," she said, though at the time she didn't think about what the moment meant for the future of the space program. However, in retrospect she thought it was a shame budget cuts forced the Apollo program to end just a few years later.
Dale Gentry was barbecuing in his brother's Houston backyard that day.
"Everyone was in front of the TV," Gentry said. He was working for General Electric at the time, in the soft goods lab, which made everything from bags to carry moon rocks, to the spacesuits at the time.
Today he continues to work in the space industry as mission manager with United Space Alliance, a Houston-based company that is the primary contractor for NASA's space shuttle and the International Space Station. Working closely with each shuttle mission, Gentry coordinates everything from the personal hygiene products to the spacesuits the astronauts wear.
But not everyone was sharing memories. Some in the younger crowd were making new memories. Hutchinson resident Matt Parks was only 2 years old in 1969. While he can come any day to the Cosmopshere, he didn't want to pass up a chance for his children to participate in such a historic anniversary, he said.