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"Circling the Earth in my orbital spaceship, I marveled at the beauty of our planet. People of the world, let us safeguard and enhance this beauty — not destroy it!" These words were spoken by Yuri Gagarin, following his first venture around Earth in 1961. Yuri's Night started 40 years later on April 12, 2001, by the United Nation's Space Advisory Counsel to bring people together to celebrate the huge accomplishments of worldwide space exploration and the hope that Yuri himself had that people preserve the beautiful planet. Tuesday evening, the Montana State University-Northern Student Union Building was transformed for a party to celebrate man's journey to the unknown, outer space. Trygve "Spike" Magelssen hosted Havre's fourth annual Yuri's Night Celebration in Havre. "Although this is the only one in Montana, there are 203 Yuri's Night parties worldwide, and there's actually one in cyber-space at secondlife. Com," Magelssen said. Magelssen's involvement in Yuri's Night started seven years ago in Washington, D.C., at the Russ Cultural Center. "We had speakers from NASA and the Russian Embassy that joined us. It's really a great thing," said Magelssen. Two years later in 2005, Magelssen had moved to Boulder, Colo., where Yuri's Night was also celebrated. "Both of these places still hold an annual celebration," he said. Magelssen brought his enthusiasm for the event with him when he moved to Havre in 2006 and began an annual Yuri's Night celebration. "I do this to help the community understand what is going on in the space program currently, as well as in the future," said Magelssen "I want kids to be inspired by this, by something more than just TV." It seemed his quest had met with success. When a few of the children in attendance at Yuri's Night were asked about space, their answers ranged from deep and thoughtful to the expected. "It's a mystery of planets and galaxies that we don't know of yet," said 12-year-old Trinity Leeds about space. The interest in outer space runs in the family with her little brother Carter Leeds, 6. "There's a bunch of planets and all the other parts is stars and moons," said Carter. Space, according to Camden Krezelak, 7, is "big, a lot of meteors," and he's not sure he would like to live there. Brady Ophus, 10, thinks space is "cool," adding that "it's probably really cold." Brady was able to answer Magelssen's third question of the evening about how far the moon is from Earth with an accurate answer of 249,000 miles. Last year's event hosted approximately 25 kids and their families, mostly Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, according to Magelssen. This year's celebration included a presentation by Magelssen explaining the history of space exploration, along with spontaneous quizzes to keep the children's interest. On the second question, "What was the first animal in space?" the children figured out that for simply attempting to answer they were rewarded with candy; a development that kept the kids on the edge of their seats. The first child, or adult, with the correct answer was awarded a T-shirt. After the presentation the local band Blind Luck played while everyone dug in to the mountain of pizza.

 

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