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Up, Up And Away

By MaryEllen Fillo

August 15, 2007

It was the perfect day Tuesday for a magic carpet ride - if you believe in such things - as several hundred people gathered on the Connecticut Convention Center Esplanade to watch the final beam placed in the architecturally distinctive "magic carpet" roof of the new waterfront Connecticut Science Center.

"We've got it all now, a magic carpet, a boat [the nearby two-sided Phoenix Companies Inc. building] and the river," said Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez as he and others at the ceremonial "topping off" ceremonies looked skyward to watch construction workers get ready to hoist the final steel beams onto the building's signature wavy-looking roof.

"I used to make up bedtime stories for my children that included magic carpets," said Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who was one of several dignitaries to attend the "topping off" program, which included fudge sundaes and great views of the under-construction science center. "Now it's time to tell them to my grandchildren."

Rell and Perez seemed to have a mutual admiration society as they chatted and then complimented each other for making the center reality.

"No matter what anyone says, we are going to leave Hartford better than it was when we found it," said Rell.

The suncouldn't have shown brighter for the center's executive vice president, Matt Fleury, who welcomed the sunlight and the limelight.

"I'm usually in the shadows, and today I'm the one who is the center of attention," he said as the media jockeyed for his comments on the new science center.

"Usually it's all about my wife," he said, a teasing reference to the media blitz surrounding his wife, WFSB, Channel 3, anchor Irene O'Connor, who sneaked out of work early to attend Tuesday's ceremony.

The smile on center president and CEO Ted Sergi's face seemed permanent as he worked the crowd and celebrated, knowing that next year there would be a long-awaited science center for the state's children, adults and visitors.

"You find resources like this in cities like Boston and New York," said Sergi of the new facility, which will include a 3D science theater, 40,000 square feet of exhibit space, a discovery center, laboratories, an observation platform and conference space.

"Now Hartford can boast the same," he said. "Fifty years from now, people will be saying, `Those old people did things right.'"

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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