Before Yuri’s Night Huntsville became a breakout space celebration
party, HAL5 was one of the key organizer that "officially" announced the event to town
and helped started this great annual celebration. Discussions started in
2007 with conversations with Yuri's Night organizer about bringing the
event to town. HAL5 teamed up with Huntsville Alive, a Huntsville social
network organization at that time,
ERC Inc., and LeeAnn’s, a local bar/restaurant
on Church Street, to arrange the "first official" Yuri’s Night
party in the "Rocket City" on April 12, 2008. Although this
was not Huntsville’s first Yuri’s Night party, it was the first one
officially listed in the international directory and opened to the
HAL5 was responsible for the Yuri’s Night Huntsville website, which is housed under HAL5’s main website, the Yuri’s Night Huntsville Facebook page, and general advertising. The turnout was beyond expectation. We had over 120 people show up to pack the entire restaurant, both indoors and on the outdoor the patio. It was a full house! Some even dressed up for the event. LeeAnn’s created a special Yuritini for the event for which Yuri’s Night Huntsville received 50 cents per drink sold. We also had a live band that was part of LeeAnn’s regularly scheduled program, and door prizes. The door prizes includes Yuri’s Night T-Shirts (donated by ERC Inc.), 2008 Space Settlement calendars (donated by HAL5), and a World Space Museum Saturn V model (donated by Yohon Lo). To top it off, we were treated with a "special" fly-by of the International Space Station directly overhead. HAL5 had created sky maps for the ISS fly-by for handouts and had staff members scattered around the venue to show the attendees how to spot the ISS. For some people, this was their first ISS sighting!
For the educational aspect, a table was setup to raise funds for HATS-STEDTRAIN, a local non-profit group that focuses on K-12 science, math and technology education. We collected $1,300 in donations, including $100 from HAL5. ERC matched the first $1,000 in donations to bring the total amount raised to $2,300. We also had Yuri’s Night T-shirts, donated by ERC Incorporated, for sale. We collected $230 from the sale of the Yuritini and T-shirts. The proceeds were used to support the YNH 2009 event, which was held at the same place.
A group photo of the Yuri’s Night Huntsville 2008 Organizing Committee. Top row, from left to right: Ronnie Lajoie, Jamie Miernik, Albert Wu, and Sherri Stroud. Front row, from left to right: Yohon Lo, Jo Weddendorf, Bart Leahy, and Teresa Danne. Committee member Dave Hewitt is not pictured.
HAL5 returned to LeeAnn's for the 2009 event. In 2010, HAL5 took on the supporting role when Court Appointed Juvenile Advocates (CAJA) Huntsville took the lead in organizing event. With the success of subsequent Yuri's Night Huntsville events, HAL5 step aside in its supporting role in 2011.