Apollo 11 Lands in NYC's Times Square for Moon Landing's 50th Anniversary

NEW YORK — Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin's famous lunar boot print landed in Times Square here Saturday (July 20) to bring a taste of the moon down to Earth for the 50th anniversary of NASA's Apollo 11 moon landing

To mark the anniversary, the Aldrin Family Foundation hosted a day-long, free, family-friendly celebration in Times Square (though extreme heat warnings moved the event inside to the Marriott Marquis hotel). Visitors could participate in a number of activities at the event, namely — they could walk on the moon, just like the world's second moonwalker: Buzz Aldrin

Well, sort of. 

The celebration featured a massive floor mosaic of a larger-than-life print of Buzz Aldrin's footprint on the moon, made up of photographs submitted by people around the world. This mosaic is part of The People's Moon project, a collaboration between co-founders Christina Korp, who also serves as the Chief Operating Officer and Marketing Officer at the Aldrin Family Foundation, and U.K. mosaic artist Helen Marshall. The physical floor mosaic serves as a complement to interactive, digital mosaics that will be revealed around the world. 

Related: In Photos: Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 Moonwalker

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"I wanted people to feel like they were a part of the celebration in some way and that it wasn't just [for] somebody who lived 50 years ago [and] witnessed it," Korp told Space.com about the mosaic, which features thousands of images people have submitted of themselves and their loved ones. 

At the event (one of many in New York City,and around the world) people of all ages explored the mosaic as well as The Aldrin Family Foundation’s Giant Moon Map and Giant Mars Map. The space also featured a screen displaying moments from Apollo 11 and Apollo memories shared by students and notable celebrities. 

Kids and adults exploring the event were also able to play with and pilot small robots around on the mosaic and maps. 

"This is really important right now, people talk about how divided we are right now and Buzz would always say to me 'we were pretty divided then.' It was the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War. Martin Luther King Jr. and JFK were assassinated and yet, we went to the moon and the world stopped and celebrated as one human race," Korp said about the motivation behind this event, and why it is important to celebrate the lunar landing. 

The event also featured appearances by former NASA astronauts Nicole Stott and Winston Scott, who spoke with families and students throughout the day. 

"Anytime we get any opportunity to talk with students and to hopefully influence them, encourage them, then I want to be a part of that," Scott said. "People that weren't even born in 1969 are excited about what happened then and about the prospects of us going back to the moon pretty soon," he added, optimistic and excited about the future of human spaceflight and our return to the moon. 

Stott brought an equally positive and forward-thinking attitude to the event, speaking with students and families. 

"I think it’s just a great idea. I think it extends so nicely. When people around the world think about the moon landing, they don't think about it like it’s a U.S. thing, they think about it as a human thing and I think that’s what this is trying to do,” she said. 

"We made our mind up with a greater goal in mind to go to the moon. A seemingly impossible thing," Stott added. "I stood as a six-and-a-half-year-old looking at the moon and thinking 'oh my gosh there's people there!' That didn't seem like it could be possible. It made anything we talk about doing now possible."

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Chelsea Gohd
Senior Writer

Chelsea “Foxanne” Gohd joined Space.com in 2018 and is now a Senior Writer, writing about everything from climate change to planetary science and human spaceflight in both articles and on-camera in videos. With a degree in Public Health and biological sciences, Chelsea has written and worked for institutions including the American Museum of Natural History, Scientific American, Discover Magazine Blog, Astronomy Magazine and Live Science. When not writing, editing or filming something space-y, Chelsea "Foxanne" Gohd is writing music and performing as Foxanne, even launching a song to space in 2021 with Inspiration4. You can follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd and @foxannemusic.