Thursday, September 27, 2012

Park #25 - Astronaut Grove - Westerville

    This place was kinda a mind-blower. As usual, I never look up any park in advance before going there, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I figured it would be another boring pocket park off of an Astronaut Street or something like that. Instead it was a lovely little place across from Alum Creek Park North. The park was dedicated to the Astronauts lost in the Apollo 1 & Challenger disasters. I first learned of Virgil "Gus" Grissom in the classic film The Right Stuff which documents the original Mercury 7 astronauts. Gus, along with Roger Chaffee and Ed White perished when the Apollo 1 capsule burst onto flames on the launch pad due to a spark igniting the pure oxygen they were breathing. Poor old Gus never got to rebuild his reputation after losing his Mercury capsule upon the controversial splashdown recovery effort.

    If you're of my generation, I really don't need to explain anything about the Challenger incident.

    I got unexpectedly emotional visiting this place, as the Walsh family has a history of Air Force service, and any loss due to flight tends to kinda get me worked up. Anyway, this was a really tidy, well landscaped place that I would highly recommend for a few moments of introspection.

Go get 'em, Gus!

Each Challenger astronaut had a tree planted for them. Unfortunately the spring storms of '12 (100MPH winds) knocked down/destroyed a couple of them.

Quite a nice sculpture.

Westerville should be proud of their parks.

This is not a very big space, but I wonder if they would have room for a memorial to the Columbia astronauts?

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