Fort Myers Beach Talk
May 19, 2016
Laser light shows return to local planetarium through May 28
By Fort Myers Beach Bulletin & Fort Myers Beach Observer
With such a warm response in years past, the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium, 3450 Ortiz Ave., Fort Myers, is proud to announce the return of its summertime laser light shows during a 10-day Go Wild for Lasers event, featuring several family fun laseriffic events throughout the celebration for both children and adults, taking place between Wednesday, May 18 to Saturday, May 28, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
Within that time frame, guests can enjoy a great selection of musical light shows, from Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin to techno and retro favorites.
“We are so excited to once again offer this 10-day event Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin are always the popular go-to shows, and also we’ll be offering some EDM electronica dance music, retro 80s and others, great for the whole family,” said Jayne Johnston, planetarium office manager.
“These shows are lots of fun; we’re planning to sell glow necklaces, bracelets and laser-light 3D glasses, and we’re encouraging those who’d like to attend to reserve their seats early so we have a better idea of how many to expect,” said Heather Preston, astronomer and planetarium director.
Previously working for NASA and teaching physics at the U.S. Air Force Academy, among several other prestigious organizations and accolades, Heather loves working for the local planetarium, and says even the wildlife outside of the facility enjoys the laser light shows.
“Our resident alligator couple, Big Al (35 years old, 12 feet long) and Ali (30 years old, 8 feet long), who have been together a very long time and had numerous litters together, loves when we play the Pink Floyd shows,” Heather laughed. “When we play Dark Side of the Moon, they must flash back to their childhood, because at the beginning of ‘Breathe’ with the heartbeat bass, Al will begin bellowing. It’s like Barry White for alligators!”
Look forward to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall shows, as well as Metallica, U2, The Beatles and Led Zeppelin. Also included during the 10-day laser event will be many kid’s double-features, Laser Retro, Laser-X (90s music) and ElectroLaze (electronica). Heather encourages readers to contact her with requests as the more who can make it, the more fun it is. For the full schedule, visit CalusaNature.org. The cost to attend each laser show is $10 per person, and RSVPs online are always welcome. Capacity is about 87 per show. For members of the center, there is little or no cost to attend.
These special laser light shows are added to the already busy planetarium schedule, with several free programs courtesy of the NASA sponsorship.
“We have been able to show something new every month since I’ve been with the planetarium, thanks to (and sponsored by) NASA,” Heather said. “We have kid-friendly shows every day at noon, and we’re now offering Flight Adventures, which has had a great response so far, as well as ‘NASA’s International Space Station,’ ‘Back to the Moon for Good’ and ‘Exoplanets.’ These are all-ages shows that are great for adults and children all are free to attend with general admission.”
Heather is eager to introduce guests to a wealth of special events and displays in the near future. The Beach Bulletin was the first to learn of this latest planetary endeavor.
“In August, the Tuolumne Foundation is giving us a giant nickel meteorite to have on display. We really appreciate it,” she said. “It will be on display with us for at least a year, on its own custom-built pedestal that will be easily accessible by smaller children and those in wheelchairs, and people can even touch it. It will be unveiled to coincide with the Perseids meteor shower in August with a big celebration and lots of fun.”
Different memberships are available for those interested in visiting the nature center and planetarium exhibits regularly. Call 239-275-3435 or visit CalusaNature.org for further information.
Raising funds for a new aviary
The Calusa Nature Center’s aviary has fallen into a state of disrepair and staff has been trying to raise funds to rebuild through a number of outlets.
“We need about $180,000 to rebuild it, and there are a multitude of ways one can participate and contribute,” Jayne said. “One may go directly through our website, through a GoFundMe account (search “Calusa Nature Aviary”), and through an Amazon Smile account, where a percentage of your purchased items goes to our cause. Things have been patched in the process, but it really needs to be rebuilt soon.”