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UCAR/NCAR celebrates 50th anniversary with Spring Fling, Open House

The organization's golden anniversary hit a high point this month with two major gatherings: an in-house party and a public open house.

The institution throws open its doors

Some 3,000 members of the public, including many family and friends of staff members, got a unique behind-the-scenes look at UCAR/NCAR at a 50th anniversary open house on June 5. For the first time, three of the institution’s major locations (Mesa Lab, Foothills, and RAF) were involved in a simultaneous public event.

See slideshow here.

Researcher explaining science to the public.SOARS protégé Karl Clarke (Oregon State University) explains an exhibit on microbursts to open-house visitors.

The weather smiled on the event, with sunny skies and pleasant temperatures easing the anxieties of organizers as well as the 200-plus staff who participated in the day’s activities.

Foothills Lab was packed with hands-on events and science demonstrations, many of them led by SOARS protégés who hit the ground running on their summer’s first weekend in town. Radiosonde launches by EOL staff alternated with takeoffs and landings by an instrumented emergency helicopter, whose regular life-saving work is assisted by specialized weather prediction tools from RAL. Technology lovers got a chance to chat with Unidata staff and tour the FL1 machine shop and wind tunnel. Science talks covered everything from climate change to wind shear and hurricanes.

“We had steady traffic in the PAN/NOx lab,” says NESL/ACD’s Frank Flocke. “Many people asked questions about ozone pollution and what could be done to reduce emissions in the Denver/Boulder metro area.”

Don Stedman (University of Denver) conducted real-time emissions testing, which Frank says was also very popular. “People were excited to learn how much pollution a lawnmower puts out and surprised that emissions from motorcycles and scooters are not regulated in Colorado,” Frank says.

The focus at the Mesa Lab was on history, with a Damon Room display of photos and artifacts organized by archivist Kate Legg and a rotating suite of decade-oriented talks presented by EO staff in period garb (see photos). Eileen Carpenter prepared for her 1970s talks by going through old issues of Staff Notes, which are now available online. (Among the items she discovered was a lost-and-found notice about a contact lens that had been found under a vending machine.)

“I enjoyed talking to employees from the 1970s who attended the talks,” Eileen says. “One gentleman wore a 1974 T-shirt with the ML lobby mural and showed me his 25th anniversary key chain, made by the Machine Shop and still good after 25 years.”

Teri Eastburn, who heads the EO Public Visitor Program and organized the decadal talks, also spoke to many former staff. “They were so proud of their affiliation and time here, and in some instances, their adult children accompanied them and shared their NCAR stories with us also. They were as proud as their parents!”

Hundreds of visitors also made their way to Broomfield, where they got to take a close look at the RAF hangar at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport and chat with pilot Henry Boynton, research scientist Al Cooper, and others.

On behalf of the President's Council, UCAR vice president for corporate affairs Jack Fellows sends thanks to everyone who planned and volunteered at the June 5 events. “Without your support, it would not have been successful,” says Jack. “In particular, we'd like to thank EO interim director Susan Foster, who oversaw the open house planning and execution.”

After more than a year of preparation for the big day, Susan made it to all three sites and liked what she saw. “What an incredible day—amazing stories to tell, contrasting facilities to share with the public, professional staff beyond imagination, and a local community that eats up science!”

An “Old West” Spring Fling

People line dancing at Spring Fling in the CG auditorium.Partygoers line dancing to the Chris King Band.

An afternoon rainstorm couldn’t keep UCAR/NCAR from celebrating its 50th anniversary in high style. On June 11, staff old and young, former and present crowded into Center Green for a special Spring Fling. Rather than the usual lip sync contest, the party focused on letting staff from across the decades catch up.

The theme was Western, featuring a preponderance of fake mustaches, sheriff’s badges, and bandannas. Event Services served up taco salad, a barbeque buffet, beer and wine, and other goodies. The Chris King Band provided music suitable for line dancing, and tent outside the building held calf roping and panning for gold activities. (A bouncy room was unfortunately canceled due to the wet weather.) Staff especially enjoyed a photo booth.

The Mesa Lab was originally slated to host the party, but events were moved to Center Green due to the weather forecast. An all-staff photo that was scheduled to occur in the Tree Plaza will be rescheduled for a later date.

Group photo of the Event Services team wearing straw hats and bandannas.The Event Services team served up a tasty barbeque buffet.