Downey’s annual rocket fever festival returns

Jaelyn Delos Reyes

Martin Bowitz, the person on the right, and his friend set up their own booth to sell different wooden rockets.

The City of Downey hosted the annual rocket festival on Aug. 13 from 10 am to 5 pm at the Columbia Space Center.

Downey residents or visitors can make their own rockets and then launch them throughout the whole day.

There was no entrance fee to attend this festival, however, visitors who wanted to build a rocket are required to pay a small fee of five dollars for the rocket engine.

“All of those rockets are real rockets,” said Benjamin Dickow, President and Executive Director of Columbia Memorial Space Center, “There’s an engine in it, a rocket motor in it that launches like rockets in the world.”

Many people from different areas came to explore the rocket festival with their families.

“This is a free event. This is supposed to be an open house event so we really don’t keep track. It’s about 1500 people over the course of the day,” Dickow said.

The rocket launches were sold out due to the number of people that came to participate in building their own rockets.

700 rockets were given away for free and around 300 rockets were launched throughout the event.

The annual rocket festival has been hosted for over 10 years but when the pandemic hit, they made this festival go online and then hybrid for the past two years.

This year was the 12th year that it has been hosted completely in person since COVID-19.

“2020, we did it all online, said Dickow, “We sent all those rocket kits out to LA and the first 300 that came back to us, we shot them up here and broadcasted all online.”

A resident from Torrance, David Jackson said, “I think it’s good to try and get people out on events like this, but I do understand why people would be concerned with COVID.”

Parents who bring their children to this festival want to inspire their little ones in science and hopefully help them gain inspiration for what they want to do once they are older.

“For my son, I kinda just want him to kind get exposed to all the different stuff,” Jackson said, “I just want him to get more excited getting into this stuff. You know if they wanna eventually go on to this field, they have a built-in excitement.”

While people were building and launching their rockets throughout the whole day, there were other activities all over the festival for people to participate in.

Around 11 am, there was a live feed from JBL to talk about solar system exploration while rockets were being launched throughout the whole day.

There were kid-friendly plastic rocket launchers in front of the Space Center building as well as food trucks parked nearby.

The main goal of this event is to get children and families to experience building a real rocket and watch it launch. The president and the rest of the team want them to gain personal experience with science and engineering.

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