Flying high

first_imgSIMI VALLEY – The Air Force One Pavilion at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum is boosting the library’s popularity so much that officials had to limit attendance over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and are looking at new parking options. For several years before Reagan’s death in June 2004, annual attendance at the library was between 200,000 and 250,000 a year, and this year attendance is already beyond 300,000. The year of Reagan’s death still holds the record, with 500,000 visitors. More than 100,000 people visited during the six weeks from mid-June to the end of July, when the library reopened after Reagan’s burial there. This fall, the library has been experiencing above-average crowds since the Air Force One Pavilion opened, including 8,650 people on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday following Thanksgiving. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals That was a record for that three-day Thanksgiving weekend period and the highest attendance since that peak when the library reopened after Reagan’s burial. On Nov. 25, the day after Thanksgiving, the library and museum closed two and a half hours early after parking lots filled to near capacity and hundreds of people lined up to enter. Officials also ceased selling tickets by 3 p.m. Nov. 26. The wait was so long to get through Air Force One that library officials stopped admitting people because they wouldn’t have been able to get through by 5 p.m., said Melissa Giller, the library’s spokeswoman. On the afternoon of Nov. 25, the library averaged 430 people through the plane each hour. Overall, that day marked the highest single attendance day since the pavilion opened Oct. 24, Giller said. Since the pavilion’s opening, attendance at the museum has increased from about 800 a day on weekdays to almost 1,150, and from an average of about 1,500 a day Saturdays and Sundays to nearly 2,300. Just after Reagan’s burial, there were as many as 4,000 visitors some days. The city of Simi Valley, which has adopted the slogan “Home of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library,” acquired the site of an old sheriff’s station near the library this year to help provide parking to accommodate the growing crowds. “We try to work with the library very closely on all potential impacts to the community to ensure that all people visiting the library and the city have a positive experience,” City Manager Mike Sedell said. “As the library becomes more of a tourist destination, there will be the need to accommodate more people.” On Nov. 25, Sedell said, the lots at the top of the hill near the library filled up early, and visitors began parking along Presidential Drive, which runs from Madera Road to the top of the hill. After Presidential Drive was full, visitors began parking at the old sheriff’s station site on Madera, and by 1 p.m. all but 18 spots were filled. Shuttle buses took patrons from that lot and Presidential Drive up the steep hill to the library. And there’s still potential to build a bigger lot on top of the hill, Giller said. “One of the things that we are studying is adding another layer to our existing parking lot. We do have enough parking up here, at the moment,” she said, adding that it’s difficult to predict how attendance might change in the future. Eric Leach, (805) 583-7602 [email protected] IF YOU GO The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. Admission is $12 for ages 18 to 61, $9 for people 62 and over and $3 for people 11 to 17. Children younger than 11 get in free. It’s at 40 Presidential Drive in Simi Valley. For more information, call (800) 410-8354. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more