Marion County Public Library

The children’s room at the Marion County Public Library is decorated with a space theme in preparation for next week’s events celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing.

FAIRMONT – Modern kids wouldn’t remember where they were during the first moon landing in 1969 because they weren’t alive yet, but next week, they’ll have a chance to remember where they were on the landing’s 50th anniversary.

Connie VanGilder, a program coordinator for the Marion County Public Library System, helped plan a party event for the anniversary she believes will be a memorable experience.

“In the future when someone asks ‘Where were you?’ ‘Well I wasn’t alive for the real moon landing but I can tell you where I was in 2019,’” VanGilder said. “They’ll have their own memory of their own history, so that’s what we’re hoping is to make that connection.”

The celebratory festivities actually kick off on Wednesday at the Fairmont branch with a lunar lander drop contest at 3 p.m., a craft building activity class at 3:30 p.m. Thursday for kids and teens, and a showing of the film “Apollo 11” at 1 p.m. Friday, as well as a genealogy presentation about the moon landing day’s events at 3 p.m.

The actual 50th anniversary of the landing on Saturday, July 20 will be the true celebration, which begins at Noon and will have games and activities for ages 5 and up.

“We wanted to do so many different things that we had to spread it out,” VanGilder said. “I would like to encourage people to come out. In my mind I see grandparents bringing their grandkids out so if they don’t want to talk about their stories they can hear other people share.”

VanGilder is particularly looking forward to Thursday’s presentation from the Marion County Genealogy Club, entitled “Where Were You When...?” where people will document where they were on July 20, 1969.

“We’re hoping that some people of all generations will come out, especially young people, I’d like for them to be able to get some history from the people who were there,” VanGilder said. “A lot of times, they don’t realize we’re not in the cold war anymore, and from what I keep hearing from all these guys is that it was part of the feeling.”

VanGilder said the Fairview Public Library is having its own celebration beginning at 9 a.m. July 20, with its own activities.

But the Fairmont branch of the library will be a hub of activity as well. VanGilder is anticipating a presentation from NASA engineer Scott Zemerick who will bring in a model of the Apollo to talk about how it worked and what it did.

“It’s only the size of a loaf of bread – it’s crazy,” VanGilder said. “Because when you see what we sent to the moon and all those things they were so huge and now this he’s bringing is going to be little.”

For VanGilder, she wanted to plan an event that would educate kids and adults about the historic anniversary of the moon landing in a way that would stick in their minds as a memory in itself.

“It’s an interesting way to celebrate it and learn about it outside of books and outside of videos,” VanGilder said. “We’re super excited, we’ve just got to get the word out for people to come out and help us eat the cake and celebrate the past, present and future.”

For more information about the upcoming programming at the library, visit its website at, or visit its Facebook page.

Email Eddie Trizzino at and follow him on Twitter at @eddietimeswv.

News Reporter

Eddie Trizzino has been a reporter with the Times West Virginian since August of 2017, covering the entertainment, business and health beats. He spends most of his time listening to records, going to the movies and strolling through the town.