The fluffy cotton-like stark white clouds stood out boldly in front of a deeply colored blue sky. I imagined taking a great photo of the towering silvery rockets at the Kennedy Space Center with that magnificently painted sky in the background. As I reached for my camera my eye caught a tiny toddler about 18 months old with her entire hand wrapped around the little finger of her escort. I could see the little white knuckles of her right hand as she held on tightly and kept turning her head from side to side. So many distractions for her; huge rockets reaching skyward, music playing, lighted displays and especially the colorful designs on the ground.
At first glance the pattern of differently colored hexagons appeared to be an interesting art display to walk on top of. Each hexagon was touching its neighbors on all six sides. The hexagons had a central color of dark or light blue or dark and light green. Each of the colored areas was surrounded by an inch wide border of gray with a darkened black edge. The gray borders outlined and accentuated the central colors. The toddler and her slightly bigger brother saw all of the colors and stopped. There seemed to be a magnetic attraction to stepping on the colored portions and then moving along from one to another.
Instantly when they stepped on the lighter colored hexagons they lit up and stayed lit until they stepped off and then onto another one. The faster they stepped from one to another the faster they could make the lights flash on and off. I could see the older brother investigating and exploring the floor display. He was thrilled to jump on the colored tiles and he quickly discovered which ones lit up. There he was off to the races running, jumping and playing by bouncing even on his butt for added effect. I was surprised though, at how well his little sister followed in his jumping steps while trying to copy his every move.
After a few moments of watching the kids leaping from color to color I noticed a few other small groups of 2, 3 and 4 adults with and without kids jumping and stamping their feet up and back as quickly as they could; with lights flashing to emphasize their every step. Suddenly they all seemed to tire of the excitement and skipped off probably to another attraction at the Space Center.
Later that day as I was drifting toward the exit I passed by the colored hexagons. I recognized the 18 month old and her big brother playing again by jumping up and back on the flashing lights. This time their white haired smiling escort, probably their granddad was pumping his legs as fast as he could up and back with such a determined look along with huge grin on his face. Then I saw the lighted display showing the amount of energy being generated by all of the flashing lights. The display showed it was at 98%. They only needed 2% more to reach enough power for the next rocket to blast off. It became apparent that this was what all of the side steppers were waiting for. The throng of people, strangers that were all working together in unison to generate energy for a rocket to shoot off out into space was enchanting. I even felt myself pulled in and added my enthusiasm to help build the energy needed for lift off.
This was a wonderful hands on example of the history of the space race. One of the key lessons headlined at the Space Center was how the shared contributions of the many, many people over years of development achieved the goal of sending and returning a man to the moon. The importance of each individual connected together with others piggy backed one discovery on another until this ambitious mission was achieved.
Although I sat there as an observer I suddenly found myself tapping my feet on the ground side to side, joining in with all of the others by generating the energy for lift off. I began to relive the achievement, joy and celebration as the crowd, of no longer strangers but now fellow contributors came together for the count down to a space launch. 10, 9, 8 and then down to 3, 2, 1. Blast off. The loud speakers around us boomed and rumbled, it felt as through the ground shook as the exhilaration of watching the ginormous shining rocket shooting off out into space, thrilled us all.