With a few hundred viewers spread across the lawn next to the Wright Brothers Monument tonight, the National Park Service celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon with a rebroadcast of the Walter Cronkite commentary.
It was an emotional evening. Perhaps not as emotional as that moment and day in 1969 when the national and the world held it collective breath waiting for Neil Armstrong to set foot on the moon.
Yet it was emotional. Fifty years after the event, it is still thrilling to here Armstrong say, “That’s one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind.”
It was fascinating watching the broadcast and the interplay between Astronaut Wally Schirra, who was teamed up with the veteran newsman, and Cronkite. They were not sure what Armstrong had said at first, although to the viewers at the Wright Brothers the words seemed clear. It took several minutes in the original broadcast for Cronkite to get the official quote.
It wasn’t just Armstrong who walked on the moon that day. Buzz Aldrin followed Armstrong to the moon’s surface.
The images that live broadcast transmitted are primitive by today’s standards. It was all black and white and the focus was constantly going in and out. But at the time, the fact that it was television transmitted in real time over 240,000 miles was almost as much a miracle as the moon landing itself.
It was a wonderful night and a great reminder of how much can be accomplished when people believe in something in common.
2016 was certainly an interesting year. Most of it was really positive and and there is not doubt the Outer Banks is still the best place anywhere for a family vacation.
Some of the headlines, though, were not as pleasant as others, and a lot of those unpleasant headlines were all about the weather.
From cold-stunned turtles in January to the surprise visit from a powerful Hurricane Matthew, the weather was in the headlines on the Outer Banks.
Still, it was a good year on the Outer Bank. Here are some of the highlights…and yes, the lowlights of the weather.
Replacement for Bonner Bridge Breaks Ground
Long overdue, but at long last the replacement span for the Bonner Bridge is finally moving forward. Here’s what we wrote:
“Three years from now and a few hundred million dollars later, a replacement span for the Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet will finally be in place. Today marked the official beginning of the process as politicians came from Raleigh and Washington, DC to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new bridge.”
100th Anniversary of the National Park Service-New Citizens Welcomed
With such a large presence on the Outer Banks, the centennial of the National Park Service was important. There were a number of special events in conjunction with the celebration, none more compelling than a swearing in ceremony for new citizens.
“Thirty-nine new citizens were welcomed to the Outer Banks yesterday at a swearing in ceremony at the Wright Brothers Memorial.
It was an amazing event—emotional, awe-inspiring and perhaps a little bit intimidating with the realization of what these newest Americans coming from 23 countries have gone through to follow their dream.”
Roanoke Island Aquarium Gets a Facelift
Delayed a year to get the budget for renovations in shape, the payoff was a spectacular result.
“After a false start and a couple of construction delays, the renovation of the Roanoke Island Aquarium–the Outer Banks only aquarium–is almost complete. It’s open now and even though a couple of the exhibits aren’t quite ready yet, what there is a really exciting.”
The weather for 2016 can easily summed up. When it was good it was very good. When it was bad, it was very bad
Cold Stunned Turtles Early January
“The STAR Center at the Roanoke Island Aquarium was designed as a care facility for injured and sick sea turtles, but never anything on this level. The problem, according to Christine Legner who oversees the facility, with all the warm weather, the turtles “ . . . just didn’t get the cue to leave.”
Tropical Storm Hermine
“It looks as though we have another day of high surf battering the Outer Banks as Tropical Storm Hermine spins away out in the Atlantic. All sign point to her meandering a bit and then moving out to sea, but it does look as though tomorrow, Monday, is not going to be a good beach day.”
Hurricane Matthew was an unwelcome and unpleasant surprise. We knew it was going to rain a lot; we knew the winds were going to be strong, but the Outer Banks seemed to get more than expected.
Now that the weather is getting better, it’s time to think about the view from the top—in this case the top of Outer Banks lighthouses. The two lighthouses that are part of Cape Hatteras National Seashore are ready for climbing.
Bodie Island and Cape Hatteras Lighthouses are extraordinary structures; Cape Hatteras in Buxton, opened in 1870 is 193’ tall and is the tallest brick lighthouse on the East Coast. Forty-three miles north is its close cousin, Bodie Island Lighthouse. Dedicated in 1872 and 170’, it was patterned after the Hatteras Lighthouse using many leftover materials with the same contractor building it.
The view from both lighthouses is absolutely breathtaking. The world seems to fall away, running out to distant horizons. At the foot of Hatteras Lighthouse is Buxton Woods, running off to the south.
Bodie Island Lighthouse rises above the marsh and wetlands of South Nags Head. Looking south and east Oregon Inlet is clearly visible.
The climb to the top can be somewhat strenuous—narrow, twisting metal stairs and very little ventilation can get things pretty warm, especially in the summer. But whatever the effort—that view from the top makes the journey with while.
Lighthouses are available for climbing from 9:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. There is a fee, age, weight and height requirements so check with the National Park Service for more information.
Officially established in 1953, over 2.4 million visitors were counted last year. The park extends from the west side of South Nags Head to Ocracoke Island and includes Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and Bodie Island Lighthouse.
The Wright Brothers Memorial is iconic to the Outer Banks. Perched atop Kill Devil Hill, the monument is a permanent reminder that powered flight was first achieved here. The memorial was authorized in 1927 and became a part of the NPS in 1953.
Fort Raleigh National Historic Site seems to be just about where the original Roanoke Island Lost Colony was situated. It’s also the home of the Lost Colony Outdoor Drama, the longest running outdoor drama in North America, now in its 78th season.
Some Spring Time Events:
Naturalization Ceremony –April 16 at 3 p.m., Wright Brothers National Memorial. United States Customs and Immigration Service will hold a citizenship ceremony. The agency has an agreement with the Park Service to hold these ceremonies where new citizens “learn about and reflect on American identity and the responsibilities of citizenship.”
First Colony Foundation Archeological Dig: “Project Dogwood” – April 17- 23, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. The First Colony Foundation is planning an archaeological dig in honor of the Centennial and the 75th anniversary of the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site.
The Lost Colony Drama Centennial Dedication – May 27, the Lost Colony Amphitheater. The Roanoke Island Historical Association will dedicate the season on opening night of The Lost Colony Drama to the National Park Service and kick off several activities. Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates is a proud sponsor of the Lost Colony.