WAPAKONETA — September 6, 1969, was Homecoming Day for Wapakoneta’s Neil Armstrong. A parade was held and an estimated 70,000 people came out to cheer the city’s hometown hero a short time after Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon.
Part of the parade was captured on an eight-millimeter film and was recently transferred to digital. The seven-minute film debuted Sunday night on the Facebook page of the Auglaize County Historical Society.
“How it started was one of our former trustees of the historical society also volunteers at Dayton History, which had been offered these eight-millimeter films which they thought were of the 1969 Homecoming Parade in Wapakoneta. Like all museums, we try to collect things that really reflect the themes that we’re going to interpret. So, Dayton History felt that a much better place for these films would be in Wapakoneta,” said Rachel Barber, administrator of the Auglaize County Historical Society.
Doug Spencer was instrumental in digitizing the film in time to have it ready for the 51st anniversary of the Armstrong Homecoming Parade.
Nobody seems to know who actually shot the film. The majority of the footage came from the corner of Willipie and Pearl streets. There are some clues, however.
“There’s a picture of this little tiny bit of family footage and so you see some kids and a woman and a man and you see the kids and the woman right at the beginning before the parade starts then when it switches and so I’m assuming it was the man who took this footage,” Barber said.
In the film, you can see various celebrities that were in Wapakoneta for the parade.
“There’s a lot of good shots,” Barber said. I’ve never seen great footage with Bob Hope and Ed McMahon. And they’re right there and so it’s really fun. They’re all coming down in their convertibles. I’ve never seen parade footage of the Purdue band with that,” Barber said.
Barber believes there still may be other undiscovered footage out there of the parade.
“It’s surprising that more of it didn’t emerge. That’s the great thing about history, you may think OK, I know the totality of this story, and then something else emerges, something else is discovered or rediscovered and that changes your whole understanding of it,” Barber said.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.