1 small step for man, 1 giant leap for Hewitt

Fifty years ago, the nation watched in enraptured fascination as Neil Armstrong walked on the surface of the moon.

Those few steps would etch him into the pages of history and into the imagination of those that peer up at the stars.

Jim Opelia and his son Joey are those stargazers. In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, Opelia set out to reenact the iconic moment in world history during the annual Pickle Fest celebration in Hewitt, Saturday, July 20.

Opelia, a science teacher and astronomical aficionado, set out on an exciting mission to bring Armstrong and his famous landing to the epicenter of Hewitt. Over the course of two weeks, he planned, designed, cut, molded, and built the 13-foot lunar lander, codenamed the Eagle by mission control.

“I love science and space,” said Opelia while he gazed at the fruits of his labor. The lander was nestled nearby the city office as the festivities of Pickle Fest roared all around. Curiosity gripped the passing crowds. Glances came from all directions as people waited for 3 p.m. The event was designed to be a realistic reenactment of the first moon landing complete with radio communication from mission control, a speech by President Kennedy, and a historical breakdown of what exactly happened on that day, narrated by Opelia himself. The mission was far from perfect. During the course of landing preparation, they lost radio communication with the lander. Also, they over shot their original landing zone within the Sea of Tranquility. Their improvised landing spot was littered with boulders and was simply unsuitable for landing. According to Opelia, the landing of the Eagle was a success largely in part to the piloting skills of Armstrong. 

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Source, image(s), credits & more: WadenaPJ | Michael Denny