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Mike’s Maze looks to the skies for inspiration

  • This year’s Mike’s Maze in Sunderland has a space theme. It’s inspired by the 40th anniversary of the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft launched in the late 1970s early ’80s. Contributed Photo

  • From left to right, Mike Wissemann, Dave Wissemann, and Jess Wissemann, from Mike's Maze on Warner Farm in Sunderland.

  • Inside "Mike’s Maze National Park," the 2016 design at Mike's Maze in Sunderland, which will be open Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. starting Sept. 3 through Nov. 6. Contributed by Mike's Maze

  • Inside "Mike’s Maze National Park," the 2016 design at Mike's Maze in Sunderland, which will be open Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Sept. 3 to Nov. 6. Contributed by Mike's Maze

  • Inside "Mike’s Maze National Park," the 2016 design at Mike's Maze in Sunderland, which will be open Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Sept. 3 through Nov. 3. Contributed by Mike's Maze



Recorder Staff
Wednesday, August 16, 2017

SUNDERLAND — A message for extraterrestrial life graces a cornfield at Warner Farm for this year’s Mike’s Maze.

“Greetings from earth, the pale blue dot,” is carved into 8 acres of corn across the river from Mount Sugarloaf. It’s visible from space.

“You could say the stars aligned this year for a space-themed maze,” said maze designer Jess Wissemann. “We’re really going to be focused on science.”

It’s inspired by the 40th anniversary of the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft launched in the late 1970s early ‘80s. “Each of them had a ‘golden record’ on the space craft. That’s what really got me excited about this maze,” Wissemann said, referring to phonograph records containing pictures, songs, and greetings in 55 different languages.

According to NASA’s website, the Voyager mission has visited Uranus and Neptune, even entered interstellar space, among many other scientific accomplishments. The mission is ongoing. Voyager 1 is currently about 13 billion miles from Earth.

“The Voyager spacecraft took the image called the pale blue dot; it’s this tiny little speck. And that contrasts some of the images the Apollo space craft took,” Wissemann continued. “One of the things we’re trying to do this year is give people a cosmic perspective about what it means to be alive on this planet. To take a step back and think about how special life is.”

Mike’s Maze on Warner Farm has been around since 2000. Last year’s theme was “See America,” a nod to the nation’s National Parks. In 2015, it was “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” At first, the mazes were hand-cut. More recently, with a GPS-guided Bobcat.

Over the years, images of the designs have gone viral, picked up by national media companies like Yahoo News and Boston.com. It’s a year-long affair.

“As soon as we close up shop on one year’s maze, we start on the next year’s maze. We usually have about four different themes we think about before committing to one,” Wissemann said.

This year, “voyagers to Mike’s Maze — terrestrial and otherwise — will enjoy galactic games designed to delight all ages. Aspiring astronauts will embark on a mission within the maze to find habitable exoplanets while amateur astronomers attempt to correctly answer cosmic queries about the scientific search for extraterrestrial life,” according to a press statement.

In addition to wandering the maze, there’s a jump-pad, a few large slides, pedal-carts, potato cannons, and snacks available for purchase.

Breaking from recent years, there will be no Halloween-themed Mike’s at Night in the 2017 season. Wissemann said “we decided what we love doing is wrapped up in the daytime stuff. We want to pour our efforts in that direction. It was hard to do both things well.”

Instead, there are a few stargazing activities in the works.

Mike’s Maze, 23 South Main St. near the town’s center, is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., beginning Sept. 9. The last day is Nov. 5. The maze will also be open on Columbus Day, Monday, Oct. 9. General admission is $15, with reduced rates for students, seniors, and children. Children under 4 are free. For more information, visit mikesmaze.com.