Cleveland Celebrates Yuri's Night
Woman dancing with astronaut mascotDancing with Eva the inflatable astronaut. Credit: Great Lakes Science CenterThe NASA Glenn Research Center's Developing Professionals Club kicked off the first annual Yuri's Night Cleveland at the Great Lakes Science Center on April 3. It was one of more than 200 Yuri's Night parties thrown across the globe last week.

From Adelaide, Australia to San Francisco, cities around the world celebrated space exploration with music, dance, performance art and high-tech exhibits.

It was all in honor of two historic missions: On April 12, 1961, the Soviet Union launched Vostok 1, making 27-year-old Yuri Gagarin the first human to orbit Earth. Twenty years later, on the exact same day, the United States launched the space shuttle Columbia, sending Commander John Young and Pilot Bob Crippen on the first flight of the Space Shuttle Program. Yuri's night revels in the spirit of these explorers.People in Star Wars costumesStar Wars fans dressed as Darth Vader and Padmé Amidala. Credit: Great Lakes Science Center

"We wanted to join the international community in celebrating humanity's achievements in space," said Stacey Bagg, a mechanical test engineer with NASA Glenn contractor Jacobs Technology.

Bagg is a member of the Developing Professionals Club's social committee, and she coordinated the event. She recently moved to Cleveland from Boulder, Colorado. "We had a Yuri's Night in Boulder, and it was a lot of fun. So I was really happy to help bring the event to Cleveland."

More than 300 people attended the party, which featured local bands Missile Command, Dead Letter Room and Alan Madej. Party-goers danced and checked out NASA Glenn space exhibits and Great Lakes Science Center exhibits, including the traveling Robots + Us. Some even participated in a costume contest, wearing outfits that ranged from Star Wars characters to Halley and his comet.

"We had a really good turnout, and people enjoyed it," Bagg said. "We plan to do it every year."

Lightsaber duelStar Wars fans re-enact the Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker lightsaber duel. Credit: Great Lakes Science Center NASA Glenn's Developing Professionals Club was formed in 2008 to build a sense of community at NASA Glenn by focusing on professional development, community service and social activities. This was the group's first major public event.

Yuri's Night sprang into existence in 2001 with 64 parties around the world. Its popularity has grown every year since then. For more information about Yuri's Night Cleveland, visit yurisnightcleveland.net.
Jan Wittry (SGT, Inc.)