20 Years Ago: Cheering, Praying for Astronauts

Twenty years ago today, The Times’ Orange County Edition carried this account of what was happenning locally on the day man first walked on the moon.

At baseball games, amusement parks, in churches and on the highways, man’s landing on the moon Sunday made its impact throughout Orange County.

A California Highway Patrol officer said major roads “were almost spooky” in the absence of the usual heavy weekend traffic.

Rides and shows at Disneyland looked deserted, a spokesman said, except for the area around the Tomorrowland stage where a giant television screen carried the pictures of the epic voyage.


Congregations in almost all churches in the county joined the rest of the world in offering prayers for the success of the Apollo 11 mission and the safety of the astronauts.

Typical were the words of Dr. Raymond T. Brahams, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Newport Beach: “We pray today for our great nation and the success of our brave astronauts.”

All Catholic churches repeated the words of J. Francis Cardinal McIntyre: “That the Apollo 11 mission be successful, and that the astronauts be safely returned to Earth, we pray to the Lord.”

At the First Baptist Church of Brea, the Rev. R.C. McFadden devoted his entire sermon, “God in Space,” to the mission, based on Genesis 1:14 through 18, and led his congregation in a minute of silent meditation.


At Anaheim Stadium, the first game of a double-header between the Angels and Oakland was halted during the second inning, when at 1:17 p.m. a message was flashed on the scoreboard: “We have landed on the moon.”

The crowd of 17,835 rose and cheered, then the game resumed.

The second contest ended five minutes before Astronaut Neil Armstrong put his foot on the moon’s surface.

The Highway Patrol said traffic in the county was very light almost all day, obviously because people were reluctant to leave their television sets.