It was a perfect day for launching rockets.
The sky was a crisp, clear blue. There was hardly any wind, a light breeze at most.
The field on East Acampo Road was barren and empty, save for sporadic patches of weeds and grass.
“And three, two, one ... “ announcer Grant Plath said into a microphone as a rocket shot off its launch pad and high up into the atmosphere. “Houston, we have take-off.”
People’s eyes snapped upward to see how far the rocket would go.
Allison Hu, 6, squinted at the rocket as it peaked and began to fall back to earth, eventually ejecting a small parachute and it dipped lower toward the crowds below.
She turned and eyed her golden rocket as it glistened in the sun.
“It can go up a whole seven feet,” she said matter-of-factly.
Her mother, Anna Hu, laughed and pointed to the box that once held her rocket.
Allison Hu took a long hard look at the box as she twisted her braided ponytail in her fingers.
“Oh, it says it can go 700 feet high,” she said. “But I think it should go 8,000 feet. I’ll make it go 8,000 feet.”
Hu was one of about 100 children and adults from St. Peter Lutheran Church on Oxford Way that woke up early Saturday morning to head out into the middle of Acampo to launch their rockets and then stick around for a barbecue lunch.
Though this was only the second year the church has done the “Launch and Lunch” event, Anna Hu, who is principal of St. Peter Lutheran School, said the turnout was impressive.
“There was no rhyme or reason to why we decided to do this,” she said. “It is just another fun way for families to come out and do something together.”
Throughout the morning, children of all ages walked up to three different launch pads where church volunteers helped light the rockets.
Each rocket had three chances to be lit and launched.
Crowds cheered and clapped as rockets burst from the ground and headed up, up, up until they were nothing more than minuscule specks in the sky.
People chuckled when a rocket failed to launch or fizzled out close to the ground.
“Well, there is always a dud,” Plath said. “But good news, two more chances, right?”
After Allison Hu received some help to get her rocket lit, she watched as it launched hundreds of feet into the fair, then fall gently back to earth.
Once it was within reach, she turned to her mother.
“Can we do that again?” she said. “It has to go higher.”
Contact Katie Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.