(ALAMOGORDO, NM) At the New Mexico Museum of Space History, every person through the door has been counted and recounted over the past two weeks as staff anticipated welcoming the facility’s five millionth visitor. Today, Wednesday, March 6, 2013, that person walked through the door.
“Every visitor to our museum is special, but today one became just a little more special. Our Five Millionth visitor walked through the door and was welcomed by our outstanding front desk staff at exactly 12:15 pm,” said Museum Executive Director Chris Orwoll.
Visitor Number Five Million, known to family and friends as Milan Bellile, and his wife Beverly were taken by surprise by the unexpected fanfare when he bought that very important admission ticket. “I was overwhelmed! This is certainly the highlight of our trip,” said Bellile. “I was totally surprised when the museum director told me I was the five millionth visitor. I just want to say how great the people we’ve met here are and how knowledgeable about space history,” he added. The Bellile’s were treated to a large gift basket of space goodies from the museum gift shop, an annual membership package to the museum, a certificate for Sunday Brunch for two at The Lodge in Cloudcroft, a photo of the Apollo 16 launch autographed by Astronaut Charlie Duke, and a prize package of t-shirts, caps, mugs and more from all the radio stations in the Burt Broadcasting group.
The couple hails from Johnston, Iowa, but had been spending the winter months in Arizona. “We decided to just take our time going back to Iowa and see some things we hadn’t had a chance to see before,” said Beverly. “We just barely missed visiting the museum several years ago when we were travelling through with our kids so we thought we’d stop this time and we’re really glad we did,” she said.
“This is an outstanding attendance mark and we were extremely excited to welcome Mr. and Mrs. Bellile to our museum,” said Orwoll. “I think one of the most exciting aspects of our countdown to Visitor Five Million is that there was absolutely no way to tell where this person was going to be from. He or she could have been from right here in Alamogordo, or from as far away as Canada or even Japan. We didn’t know until they walked up to the reception desk,” said Orwoll.
The New Mexico Museum of Space History was founded in 1976 as the International Space Hall of Fame and each year hosts thousands of visitors from around the world. The museum was recently accepted as a Smithsonian Affiliate, and is the archive for Spaceport America and the National Space Society.
The New Mexico Museum of Space History is a division of the NM Department of Cultural Affairs. For more information, call 575-437-2840 or toll free 1-877-333-6589 or visit the website at www.nmspacemuseum.org.