Joe Edwards has dreamed of the moon since playing with his metal rocketship bank that he got at age 4.
And as a young cadet in the U.S. Army, he sat mesmerized on the floor of his sister’s Georgetown home in Washington D.C. He watched as the Eagle landed and Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon, making a giant leap for mankind.
“That just galvanized the whole world,” he says of the July 20, 1969, lunar landing. “For three whole days, the whole world was just together. People said, 'Now we made it. We made it to this place.'”
For centuries, Edwards points out, people had written poetry about the moon, made art about the moon, written movies about the moon.
Notable St. Louisans shared their memories of the July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 moon landing.
Ten years ago, Edwards opened a hotel about the moon.
The Moonrise Hotel on the Delmar Loop is an homage to all those moondreams. Its eight stories are topped with a 3,000-pound, 10-foot-wide model of the moon. Edwards thinks it's the world’s largest. The moon spins above a rooftop bar, which offers sweeping views of the St. Louis skyline.
The hotel has moon landing touches throughout: a conference room named the Apollo 11, complete with a framed copy of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat from that day. (“Moon Surface Is Powdery,” one headline proclaims.)
He’s met seven of the 12 moon walkers and has autographs of many inside display cases filled with space-themed thermoses, Lego sets, Pez dispensers, a pinhead-size piece of the moon, a rare patch taken to the moon and signed by the Apollo 11 astronauts, and yes, the metal rocketship bank that Edwards played with as a child.
Edwards has met hundreds of celebrities and displays photos of himself with them at his nearby Blueberry Hill restaurant. Next to the hotel elevator is a photo of Edwards with Neil Armstrong.
The two met at a memorial event in Dayton, Ohio, in 2011, a time when Armstrong didn't make many public appearances. Edwards went early and was able to talk to Armstrong alone for about 15 minutes. Edwards told him how much he was a role model and hero.
Armstrong was gracious and complimented Edwards on his bow tie and cummerbund, patterned with the phases of the moon.
“Where’d you get that?” Armstrong asked.
Edwards may break out that same outfit July 20 for a rooftop party at the Moonrise Hotel (6177 Delmar Boulevard). The event starts at 3 p.m. and continues until 2 a.m., with lunar-themed drink specials, a small-plates menu, music by BSS Group and a cosmic-themed photo booth. Guests are encouraged to wear their best moon- and space-themed attire for a costume contest. Find more information at moonrisehotel.com.
Here are some other ways St. Louis is honoring the big anniversary.
Six Flags St. Louis
Six Flags St. Louis looks for any excuse to party. At Moonmania, enjoy moon-themed beverages from a Lunar Landing Bar, along with space-themed photo ops and a virtual reality experience where guests can take a trip on Apollo 11. From 9:30 to 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, howl at the moon and enjoy after-hours rides on American Thunder and the Moon Cars. An astrologer will give free readings on Tuesday and Wednesday, representatives from the Endangered Wolf Center will be on hand Tuesday and Hurricane Harbor will show "Space Jam" at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. If you have a competitive streak, stretch your stomach in MoonPie-eating contests Thursday through July 20.
When Tuesday through July 20 • Where Six Flags St. Louis, 4900 Six Flags Road, Eureka • How much Free with park admission • More info sixflags.com/stlouis
The Cardinals will mark the anniversary of the moon landing with — what else? — a bobblehead giveaway. Fans at the Cards-Pirates game Tuesday can take home a bobblehead of an astronaut holding a Cardinals flag on the moon’s surface.
When 7:15 p.m. Tuesday • Where Busch Stadium, 700 Clark Avenue • How much Ticket prices vary • More info cardinals.com/promotions
St. Charles County Parks
The members of the Astronomical Society of Eastern Missouri host free star parties with the help of their high-powered telescopes every Friday night at Broemmelsiek Park in Wentzville. But the July 20 event will be special: In honor of the anniversary of the moon landing, they invite visitors to dress in their best 1960s attire (prizes will be awarded) and use high-powered telescopes to gaze at the night sky. Footage of the moon landing and the Apollo 11 mission will be shown on a big screen.
When 8:30 p.m.-midnight July 20 • Where Broemmelsiek Park, 1615 Schwede Road, Wentzville • How much Free; registration not required • More info 636-707-0011; asemonline.org
St. Louis Science Center
The St. Louis Science Center hosted the ultimate moon landing tribute last year with its exhibition of "Destination Moon," complete with the space module Columbia. Attendance exceeded expectations: Nearly 88,000 people saw it. Many of the museum's own pieces from the exhibit are still on display. The science center will celebrate the moon landing with an all-day party July 20. On hand will be experts and NASA ambassadors, as well as members of the St. Louis Astronomical Society, St. Louis Rocketry Association and St. Louis Space Frontier. While you're there, check out the traveling Smithsonian exhibit “A New Moon Rises,” which features large-scale photos of the moon’s surface. And catch a screening (through July 22) of “Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon,” a documentary that follows 12 astronauts who have walked the moon.
When 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. July 20 • Where St. Louis Science Center, 5050 Oakland Avenue • How much Free • More info slsc.org
James S. McDonnell Prologue Room
The Prologue Room is one of those hidden spots that tells an important story about St. Louis. It’s a tribute to aircraft and spacecraft built by Boeing employees and includes Mercury and Gemini mock-up capsules, models of modern military aircraft, dioramas, paintings and videos. It offers programs for students in the fourth grade and older during the school year; during the summer, it’s open for free, self-guided tours.
When Summer hours are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday • Where Boeing-St. Louis headquarters, building 100, 6300 James S. McDonnell Boulevard, Berkeley • More info boeing.com/company/tours/prologue-room.page
Challenger Learning Center-St. Louis
If you can’t launch your kid to the moon (parents, you know you’ve thought about it at least once), you can send them on a simulated space mission at the Challenger Learning Center-St. Louis. If you can’t make a mission, moon-themed activities are free. And if you can’t make the event, the center offers other hands-on programs for scout groups, birthday parties and anyone else who makes a reservation. The center and others like it around the country were created by family members of the victims of the Challenger space shuttle disaster.
When Activities are 11 a.m.-1 p.m. July 20; missions are 9-11 a.m. (ages 6-10) and 1-3 p.m. (ages 11 and up) • Where 205 Brotherton Lane, Ferguson • How much Mission is $15, activities are free; reservations required • More info challengerstl.org
Create an alien pal and his habitat, make galaxy slime, meet animals that have traveled into space, design crop circles, relax with space-themed yoga and make a terrestrial terrarium to take home. Your local library branch is likely hosting space-themed events and activities this summer. Here are a few highlights for the coming week.
• Apollo-Palooza, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. July 20, St. Louis County Library Prairie Commons branch, slcl.org
• Challenger Learning Center, 10 a.m.-noon July 20, St. Louis County Library Indian Trails branch, slcl.org
• St. Louis Astronomical Society presentation on Apollo moon landing missions, 7 p.m. Wednesday, St. Louis County Library Indian Trails branch, slcl.org
• Astronomical Society of Eastern Missouri presentation on planets and solar system, 7 p.m. Wednesday, St. Charles City-County Library Kisker Road branch, mylibrary.org
• ASEM presentation on moon exploration, 7 p.m. Tuesday, St. Charles City-County Library Middendorf-Kredell branch, slcl.org
• Rich Huermann of St. Louis Astronomical Society presents “A Tourist’s Guide to Mars,” 1 p.m. July 20, St. Louis Public Library Buder branch, slpl.org