MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - Patriots Point celebrates its 40th anniversary Saturday, a history dating back to the opening of the USS Yorktown on Jan. 3 1976.
"It definitely had a wow factor," David Clark, senior museum curator, said. "Because of the size of the ship, a carrier this size had never been to Charleston before." Clark was working at Patriots Point when in opened four decades ago.
The senior curator for Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, Clark remembers when Patriots Point opened 40 years ago. He was there when the public boarded the aircraft carrier for the first time.
"We had pretty good turnout," Clark said. "We had a little over 2,000 people on the first day."
The Patriots Point Development Authority transformed more than 100 acres of land at Patriots Point, then known as Hog Island, for the aircraft carrier and future ships.
"From its inception, Patriots Point was always going to be a multi-ship, multi-attraction with landside attractions as well," Clark said."'81 was a big year when we added the Clamagore, the Laffey, the nuclear ship submarine, the golf course opened."
During the 1990's, the Medal of Honor Museum opened, in addition to a new hotel and marina. Later exhibits included the Vietnam War experience and a Cold War exhibit.
"We know there are many folks especially in the Charleston area that may have come and visited us in 1976 or in 1985, maybe even five years ago," Molly Hamilton, of Patriots Point public relations, said. "They would be very surprised to see how much we have changed in the last 40 years. We have really grown our exhibits to be more interactive and immersive, really to bring history alive for our visitors."
According to Patriots Point officials, nearly 10 million day visitors have toured the museum, 1 million students have explored its warships, and 555,000 campers have spent the night aboard the USS YORKTOWN. Clark said as Charleston grows, so does Patriot's Point though the museum's mission remains unchanged.
"Showing appreciation for patriotism and service in the military...that's been always a part of Patriot's Point and always will be," Clark said.
On Sat. Aug. 27, visitors can enjoy a special $2 admission fee, the cost of a ticket in 1976. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. the museum will showcase new exhibits and launch a new animation series featuring the USS Yorktown's mascot, Scrappy.
Special events will include a food court and beer garden aboard the USS Yorktown, entertainment from Pin-Ups for Heroes musical trio as well as prizes.
Tickets to the Aug. 27 party can be purchased in person or online at www.PatriotsPoint.org.
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