By Bill Parry
A six-month series of celebrations commemorating the World’s Fair anniversaries will conclude Sunday at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park with several free events and activities.
The New York State Pavilion will be open to the public for a third time this year after having been closed for decades. There will be a lecture by John Krawchuk, the Parks’ Department’s director of historic preservation, in the Queens Museum at 1 p.m. and a daylong World’ Fair Scavenger Hunt. The finale will be a concert by Yesterday and Today: a tribute to the music of the Beatles by the Unisphere at 6 p.m.
“I hope you’re able to participate in the Scavenger Hunt and/or enjoy the many other free and fun events,” Borough President Melinda Katz said. “Let’s all celebrate the legacy of the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs together, which were two of the most important events in our borough’s distinguished history.”
In addition, the price of a ride on the park’s carousel will be reduced to 50 cents and the Belgian Waffle Lady is expected. The closing ceremony will also include special offers at the New York Hall of Science, the Queens Zoo and the Queens Botanical Gardens.
The six-month celebration began when the iconic NYS Pavilion was open to the public for the first time since 1987 April 22. More than 5,000 people stood on line for hours for a chance to see the inside of the unique Space Age structure, that Katz is committed to preserving and restoring.
“We really thought at best we’d have 500 people that day,” Park Administrator Janice Melnick said. “The turnout was absolutely magical, it was very special and we realized how many people were interested in the World’s Fair.”
The idea to open the Pavilion to the public was hatched by a group of volunteers who have been doing what they can to maintain the structure’s appearance since 2009. The New York State Pavilion Paint Project has a core of eight people that includes a scientist, an environmentalist, a contractor and several who work in film production. “We’re an interesting and dysfunctional family who share a love for the building,” co-founder Mitch Silverstein said. “We paint whenever we can as a labor of love. That’s what made that turnout in April so special. It was a challenge hosting that many people, but it was great to have that kind of support knowing so many people cared.”
The next major event drew more than 60,000 to the World’s Fair Anniversary FestivalMay 18. “Again we were blown away by the crowds,” Melnick said.
She thinks the scavenger hunt will be a great success Sunday. Registration is required at the Queens Theater between 10:30 a.m. and noon for teams of two to six people.
Each team will be given maps of the park and a list of clues that will test each team’s knowledge of both World’s Fairs and of the park as it is now. The clues will direct the teams to various cultural locations in the park where they will receive a token to prove they were there. The teams with the most tokens at 5:30 p.m. will receive valuable prizes, including museum and restaurant gift certificates, tickets to a New York Rangers game and more.
“It should be a fun way to close out what has been a remarkable season for us,” Melnick said.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4538.