By Wendy Holdren
Visitors from seven states took part in a tour of the Rocket Boys’ hometown Sunday, wrapping up the first year the October Sky Rocket Boys Festival was celebrated in Beckley.
Festival director Scott Hill said the trip was excellent, as visitors from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Maryland, Texas and West Virginia traveled to Coalwood to learn more about the real-life Rocket Boys.
“It was a great way to wrap up the festival,” Hill said. “I’m amazed at how well everything turned out. We brought everyone together to celebrate and share the Rocket Boys story.”
The MotorCoach tour bus left Tamarack at 9 a.m. and 25 passengers ventured into McDowell County to see where Homer Hickam got his start.
While in Coalwood, visitors were served chili and had the opportunity to speak with people who knew Hickam personally.
The October Sky Festival was hosted for many years in Coalwood to celebrate the accomplishments of the Rocket Boys. When the town was no longer able to host the event, Beckley citizens decided to step up to the plate.
“I’m very proud of what we brought to Beckley,” Hill said. “This festival will be the first of many.”
All proceeds from the festival will be divided among the United Way, the city of Coalwood, and a fund for next year’s festival.
Hill said a contest in which Beckley fire hydrants were adopted and painted in the theme of “rockets in space” was a huge fundraiser, which specifically benefited the United Way. The final fundraising totals are still being tallied, and Hill said they will be announced in Tuesday’s edition of The Register-Herald.
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