Visitors pose for photos beside a portrait of Neil Armstrong at the Armstrong Air and Space Museum as special events are underway for visitors commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, Saturday, July 20, 2019, in Wapakoneta, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A moonstruck nation celebrated the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11's "giant leap" by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin at parties, races, ball games and concerts Saturday, toasting with Tang and gobbling MoonPies.

At NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Aldrin showed Vice President Mike Pence the launch pad where he flew to the moon in 1969. At the same time halfway around the world, an American and two other astronauts blasted into space on a Russian rocket. And in Armstrong's hometown of Wapakoneta, Ohio, nearly 2,000 runners competed in "Run to the Moon" races.

"Apollo 11 is the only event in the 20th century that stands a chance of being widely remembered in the 30th century," the vice president said.

Wapakoneta 10K runner Robert Rocco, 54, a retired Air Force officer from Centerville, Ohio, called the moon landing by Armstrong and Aldrin "perhaps the most historic event in my lifetime, maybe in anybody's lifetime."

At the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Gilda Warden sat on a bench and gazed in awe at the Apollo 11 command module, Columbia, on display. "It's like entering the Sistine Chapel and seeing the ceiling. You want to just sit there and take it in," said Warden, 63, a psychiatric nurse from Tacoma, Washington.

On July 20, 1969, Armstrong and Aldrin undocked from Columbia in lunar orbit and then descended in the lunar module Eagle to the Sea of Tranquility. The Eagle landed with just 17 seconds of fuel to spare. Six hours later, Armstrong was the first to step onto the lunar surface, proclaiming for the ages: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." It was humanity's first footsteps on another world.

In a speech at Kennedy, Pence paid tribute to Armstrong, Aldrin and command module pilot Michael Collins — if they're not heroes, "then there are no heroes" — as well as the 400,000 Americans who worked tirelessly to get them to the moon.

Aldrin, 89, grabbed the right hand of Neil Armstrong's older son, Rick, at Pence's mention of heroes. He then stood and saluted, and received a standing ovation. Armstrong died in 2012. Collins, 88, did not attend the Florida ceremony. But Apollo 17's Harrison Schmitt, the next-to-last man to walk on the moon in 1972, was there.

Pence reiterated the Trump administration's goal of sending American astronauts back to the moon within five years and eventually on to Mars. He said this next generation of astronauts will spend weeks and months on the lunar surface, not just days and hours like the 12 Apollo moonwalkers did. Alongside the stage was the newly completed Orion capsule that will fly to the moon and back, on a test flight without a crew, in another year or two.

NASA had other celebrations going on Saturday, most notably at Johnson Space Center in Houston, home to Mission Control; the U.S. Space and Rocket Center next door to Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, where the Saturn V moon rockets were born; and the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington.

And where better to celebrate than Apollo, Pennsylvania — located in Armstrong County not far from Moon Township and the town of Mars. The historical society revived the annual moon-landing celebration in honor of the big 50. All of the Apollo astronauts have long been honorary citizens of Apollo, the society's Alan Morgan said.

At New York's Yankee Stadium, former space shuttle astronaut Mike Massimino threw out the ceremonial first pitch to former pitcher Jack Aker, who was on the mound when the July 20, 1969, baseball game was interrupted to announce that the Eagle had landed. Armstrong and Aldrin were "A1, No. 1, higher than major league," Aker recalled Saturday. "It's a mutual feeling," Massimino agreed.

Across the country in Seattle, Tim Turner was first in line Saturday to see Columbia, the mother ship piloted by Collins as Armstrong and Aldrin moonwalked.

"Good grief! It's still amazing, the No. 1 feat of the 20th century, if not all of modern history, that first time there," said Turner, 57, a computer programmer from Poulsbo, Washington.

As he waited to get in to see Columbia, Craig Smith, 58, a veterinarian from Tacoma, Washington, recalled thinking as a boy: "'Dang! Seriously? A dude on the moon?' I thought that was nifty."

Clocks all over counted down to the exact moment of the Eagle's landing on the moon — 4:17 p.m. EDT — and Armstrong's momentous step onto the lunar surface at 10:56 p.m. EDT. The powdered orange drink Tang was back in vogue for the toasts, along with marshmallow and chocolate MoonPies, including a 55-pound (25-kilogram), 45,000-calorie MoonPie at Kennedy's One Giant Leap bash.

About 100 visitors and staff at the American Space Museum in Titusville, across the Indian River from Kennedy, cheered and lifted plastic champagne glasses of Tang at the moment of touchdown.

"This is what we're here for, to share the American space experience," explained executive director Karan Conklin, who led the toast.

For the late night-crowd, "first step" concerts were on tap at the Kennedy Center in Washington, outside in the shadow of a replica Saturn V rocket in Huntsville, and other sweltering locales.

A real rocket lit up the night sky in Kazakhstan.

Blasting off aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket in 100-degree heat (38 degrees Celsius), American Andrew Morgan, Italian Luca Parmitano and Russian Alexander Skvortsov flew to the International Space Station. Only Skvortsov was alive at the time of Apollo 11. The three already living on the space station also were born long after the moon landings.

The crew deliberately modeled its mission patch after Apollo 11's: no astronaut names included to show the universal nature of space flight. Morgan explained in a NASA interview that Apollo 11, and now his flight, represents "an accomplishment of the world and not one single country."

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AP reporters Angie Wang in Wapakoneta, Ohio, and Carla K. Johnson in Seattle, and freelance writer Charles O'Brien contributed to this report.

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Follow AP's full coverage of the Apollo 11 anniversary at: https://apnews.com/Apollo11moonlanding

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Vice President Mike Pence, left, points to Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin during an event at the Kennedy Space Center in recognition of the Apollo 11 anniversary, Saturday, July 20, 2019, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
In this July 20, 1969 photo made available by NASA, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot, walks on the surface of the moon during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity. (Neil Armstrong/NASA via AP)
Visitors look at the NASA Apollo 11 command module Columbia, the centerpiece of Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission exhibit at the Museum of Flight, Friday, July 19, 2019, in Seattle. The module functioned as a mother ship, carrying the crew of three astronauts and the second Apollo spacecraft, the lunar module, to orbit around the moon, and brought the astronauts back to Earth. The exhibit commemorates the historic landing by American astronauts on the moon 50 years earlier, on July 20, 1969. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
This March 30, 1969 photo made available by NASA shows the crew of the Apollo 11, from left, Neil Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, module pilot; Edwin E.
In this photo provided by NASA, the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission is celebrated in a 17-minute show,
In this July 16, 1969 photo made available by NASA, the 363-feet Saturn V rocket carrying the Apollo 11 crew, launches from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (NASA via AP)
El presidente Donald Trump, acompañado por los astronautas Michael Collins, izquierda, y Buzz Aldrin, derecha, del Apolo 11, así como por el vicepresidente Mike Pence y la primera dama Melania Trump, escucha durante una reunión para conmemorar el 50mo aniversario del alunizaje del Apolo 11, en la Oficina Oval de la Casa Blanca, el viernes 19 de julio de 2019, en Washington. (AP Foto/Alex Brandon)
A runner receives her medal after participating in the
Visitors look onto a scale model of the Saturn V rocket used in the United State's Apollo program at the Armstrong Air and Space Museum as special events are underway for visitors commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, Saturday, July 20, 2019, in Wapakoneta, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Ethan Reynolds browses a display of archival newspaper front pages announcing the first moon landing at the Armstrong Air and Space Museum as special events are underway for visitors commemorating the milestone's 50th anniversary, Saturday, July 20, 2019, in Wapakoneta, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Visitors gather on the grounds of the Armstrong Air and Space Museum as a scale model of NASA's developing Space Launch System is displayed as part of events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, Saturday, July 20, 2019, in Wapakoneta, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Vice President Mike Pence, center, speaks during an event for employees, their families and supporters at the Kennedy Space Center in recognition of the Apollo 11 anniversary, Saturday, July 20, 2019, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin, left, talks with Vice President Mike Pence, center, and Rick Armstrong, son of Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong as they gather at pad 39a the Kennedy Space Center where the launch of Apollo 11 took place 50 years ago on this anniversary of the moon landing, Saturday, July 20, 2019, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin, left, talks with Vice President Mike Pence, center, and Rick Armstrong, son of Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong as they gather at pad 39a the Kennedy Space Center where the launch of Apollo 11 took place 50 years ago on this anniversary of the moon landing, Saturday, July 20, 2019, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Guests watch a video and commentary about the moon landing at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex during the Apollo 11 anniversary, Saturday, July 20, 2019, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Guests relax in the rocket garden at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex during the Apollo 11 anniversary, Saturday, July 20, 2019, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Vice President Mike Pence speaks during an event for employees, their families and supporters at the Kennedy Space Center in recognition of the Apollo 11 anniversary, Saturday, July 20, 2019, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Behind him is an Orion space capsule that will transport the next humans in space. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
As historic videos of the craft are shown in the background, the NASA Apollo 11 command module Columbia, its bottom scorched and pitted from reentry into Earth's atmosphere decades earlier, is displayed at the centerpiece of an Apollo 11 mission exhibit at the Museum of Flight, Friday, July 19, 2019, in Seattle. The exhibit commemorates the historic landing by American astronauts on the moon 50 years earlier, on July 20, 1969. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)