Neil Armstrong popularity leads Museum Center to extend free admission

CINCINNATI - Tri-State residents continued to remember the late local astronaut Neil Armstrong on Sunday, by going to an exhibit where he and his space suit continues to be shown at the Cincinnati Museum Center.

Center organizers say they had a small crowd of people waiting to get in when they opened their doors at 10 a.m. Sunday morning, something they say is very unusual even for the most popular exhibits. The Museum Center offered free admission to the natural history museum at the Center in honor of Armstrong.

What many Sunday visitors to the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History and Science wanted to see was Armstrong's space suit as well as one of the moon rocks he brought back with him from the Apollo 11 mission.

All day, you could see families flocking to the Museum Center exhibit.

Visitors from as far as Erie, Pennsylvania were in awe. One of them said, "It's amazing to think of what he accomplished and how he brought the nation together, when he landed on the moon."

What many of the visitors and Armstrong fans didn't know, is that a man who almost became an astronaut now works at the Museum Center.

Calvin Harper trained astronauts on the space shuttle after being inspired by Neil Armstrong's story. Harper said, "He was a pioneer. He actually helped pave the way. The fact that he was a white American has nothing to do with the fact that I looked up to him. He was one of my heroes, so I wanted to go on and do things to myself a role model for the children behind me. I didn't quite make it into space, but I did have an impact on the space program by being able to train the astronauts."

Now, Harper works at the Museum Center doing what Armstrong did at the University of Cincinnati during the 1970s, teaching young people about science, flying, space and leadership.

Children of families visiting Sunday also say they find Armstrong continues to inspire them. Jesse McLean of Erlanger said, "Yeah, it means that people from around here can definitely do it. And don't be afraid to do it."

If you didn't get a chance to go the Cincinnati Museum Center on Sunday and see Armstrong's space suit and more, don't worry. The Museum Center says it will now continue its free admission offer, through Labor Day weekend next week.

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