WASHINGTON — Despite the extreme heat, at least half a million people turned out Friday and Saturday nights to watch the “Apollo 50: Go for the Moon” show projected onto the Washington Monument in honor of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s lunar landing.
The 17 minute show played a total of six times – not counting a media preview at 3 a.m. on Wednesday – and had an estimated half a million people turn out to see it. The National Air and Space Museum, with the help of 59 Productions, projected the 363-foot rocket onto the Washington Monument, with several screens to the side of the obelisk.
People cheered and shouted as the rocket took off, and as the Eagle landed on the moon.
“Get it done, Neil!” one man could be heard shouting at the 11:30 p.m. Saturday showing as the first footprint appeared on the moon.
The crowd roared with applause when the astronauts returned to earth, and this reporter can confirm it was one of the coolest things she’s ever seen on the National Mall.
Alison Mitchell, from the National Air and Space Museum, said the event management company took crowd density reports on the grass panels across the National Mall and made the 500,000 estimate. She said that didn’t take into account viewers in other areas like the gravel paths along the mall or in the tree panels to either side of the mall.
Mitchell said they are also still working on visitor numbers to the museum over the week and weekend. WUSA9 will report when those numbers are ready.
The 50th anniversary of the lunar landing captured the nation’s imagination this past week. Between television specials and events, the country really came out to celebrate the first time man walked on the moon.