Huntsville gears up for year long lunar landing celebrations

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- The golden anniversary of the lunar landing takes place next year,  and Huntsville is already gearing ready for a year-long celebration.

The Rocket City played an important role in that small step for man, giant leap for mankind, and Huntsville plans to put on a celebration to make the whole country take notice.

The Apollo 11 landed on the moon July 20th, 1969. That day will be widely celebrated next year for the 50th anniversary. But, Huntsville is claiming the day four days earlier, the 16th. That was when Huntsville's Saturn V rocket launched, taking the Apollo 11 and man to the moon for the first time.

In honor of the anniversary, Huntsville has celebrations planned throughout all of 2019.

"We wrote the pages of history when we put the rockets together that put man on the moon and the whole world's eyes should be on Huntsville because of that," said Huntsville Mayor, Tommy Battle."

Next year at this time, the week alone is packed with events including a parade of rockets, panel discussions with the original Saturn V team, as well as art, plays, and concerts. Including the "Don't Hang Up Your Dancing Shoes" party.

"Which is reminiscent of the time that we landed on the moon and Dr. Von Braun encouraged us, there was dancing in streets when we landed on the moon, but I ask you, don't hang up your dancing shoes," said Deborah Barnhart, the C.E.O. of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

"That was a time that was like no other when in this town," said Mayor Battle. "When everybody came together, everybody had a common cause."

The anniversary celebrations are meant to bring all of Huntsville together and remind the world of the role the rocket city plays in space exploration.

"The cape launches, Houston trains astronauts, and Huntsville gets you off the ground," said Barnhart.

The Space and Rocket Center has a goal of having one million guests from all over the world next year. To celebrate the anniversary, as well as the Alabama Bicentennial.

The Wernher von Braun family will be the honorary chairpersons of the anniversary celebrations. And the Rocket Center also plans to set two Guinness World Records next year. One for the most rocket kits launched simultaneously and another for the most rockets launched in a 24-hour period.