(From YN Media Relations Team Member Brice Russ)
Yesterday evening, I made the trip down from Philadelphia to Washington, DC to help out as a volunteer for Yuri’s Night DC at NASA Goddard, one of our first events for 2009. I’m pleased to say that the 4-hour round trip was more than worth it, as I had the pleasure of seeing hundreds of space enthusiasts and partiers celebrate all evening long at the Goddard Visitors’ Center.
This was, I have to admit, my first visit to Goddard, and I was really impressed with the center as a whole and how the Goddard employees and other volunteers had decked it out for Yuri’s Night. Most of the exhibits were still left open and unblocked for first-timers like me, but in between the interactive programs and giant Hubble Deep Field photos were pizza stands, information desks and signs directing attendees to all the activities. A dance tent was set up between the center and the “rocket garden” (which was also open), and one room had been turned into a stage for the band Middle Distance Runner, as well as a center for purchasing drink tickets and Yuri’s Night gear.
The first Yuri's Night guests arrive at NASA Goddard
One of the most prominent exhibits of the evening was the Hubble Space Telescope created by Charm City Cakes, a fantastic bakery seen by millions on the Food Network show Ace of Cakes. Quite a few feet in length and hung in the center of the visitor center’s main gallery, this replica was created to be a bit more durable than most of their creations so, as YNDC director Amy Pruett noted, “we could enjoy it for a bit longer”. Charm City Cakes provided some more edible–and delicious–goods which the partygoers enjoyed after a short speech about the work currently being done with Hubble and a cake-cutting ceremony.
The HST replica itself
One of the cakes that CCC delivered in addition to the Hubble centerpiece
Attendees were encouraged to come decked in their best sci-fi attire, and many answered the call. Star Wars was the best-represented of the groups, with representatives from the 501st and Rebel Legions, as well as the local R2D2 Builders’ Club and Yuri’s Night Executive Director Loretta Whitesides herself portraying Princess Leia to a T. There were plenty of Star Trek enthusiasts, though, along with a full-size replica of The Robot from Lost in Space and a few outfits I didn’t even recognize.
- This R2 unit moved around via remote control for a lot of the evening
Not an uncommon sight at Yuri's Night Goddard
Of course, the evening wasn’t just about dancing and Darth Vader. In addition to the well-received performance by Middle Distance Runner and the “Are You Smarter Than A Rocket Scientist?” space quiz, YN Goddard was host to two standing-room-only demonstrations of their Science on a Sphere. I wasn’t able to catch the first session with Jim Garvin, but I was able to make the next presentation by Deputy Director Laurie Leshin. If you’re in the DC area and, by some chance, haven’t yet been to NASA Goddard, Science on a Sphere is worth the trip alone. Even if you aren’t the sort of person to naturally be interested in, say, aerosol distribution or Arctic sea ice levels, you’ll change your mind after visiting.
Dr. Leshin with the Sphere
On the whole, the event was a rousing success; most everyone we talked to had a fantastic time and were looking forward to coming back next year. If you attended YN Goddard and you’re reading this–thanks for coming! We couldn’t have done it without you.
Yuri's Night banner
[Want to provide an after-the-fact report for your Yuri’s Night event? Send your words, pictures and videos to brice at yurisnight dot net.]