Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, co-chair of the World’s Fair Anniversary Committee, helped preside over the well-attended World’s Fair Anniversary Festival held Sunday, May 18, in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
The free all-day event was held to commemorate the 50th and 75th anniversaries of the 1964 and 1939 World’s Fairs, which were held in what is now Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
An estimated 60,000 people attended Sunday’s festival, according to NYC Parks, which organized the festival in collaboration with the World’s Fair Anniversary Committee, co-chaired by Borough President Katz and Assembly member Margaret Markey. The committee includes representatives from Queens’ cultural organizations and other stakeholders who have organized a six-month long series of events to celebrate the World’s Fair anniversaries.
“Sunday’s World’s Fair Festival was an astounding success that brought people from across our diverse borough together to celebrate two momentous events in the history of Queens,” Borough President Katz said. “I commend NYC Parks, Assembly member Markey, all the members of the World’s Fair Anniversary Committee and all of the festival’s sponsors for doing such an outstanding job of organizing such a wonderful event.”
“The 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs brought millions of people to what is now Flushing Meadows Corona Park to enjoy an amazing array of exhibits, attractions, performers and foods from around the world,” the Borough President added. “Sunday’s festival rekindled memories of those fantastic events and reminded us that the Borough of Queens, the most diverse county in America, remains ‘The World’s Borough.’ It is truly a special place where people can experience the incredible variety of cultural traditions celebrated by Queens residents who come from more than 100 countries and speak about 160 different languages.”
During the festival (which took place under clear skies and comfortable temperatures for almost the entire day) Katz, Markey and Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski presided over a mid-afternoon ceremony honoring Gilmore D. Clarke, the landscape architect who designed the Unisphere, the huge steel globe that was the centerpiece of the 1964 World’s Fair and continues to be an iconic symbol of Queens that is recognizable worldwide. Clarke also was involved in designing many other elements of the 1939 and 1964 Fairs.
Proclamations honoring Clarke were presented by Katz and Markey to his widow, Delores Clarke, during the ceremony. Lewandowski also unveiled a new NYC Parks plaque that explains the history of the Unisphere and Clarke’s role in its creation.
Borough President Katz also gave introductory remarks just prior to the start of a free concert by the Queens Symphony Orchestra (QSO) early Sunday evening. The QSO was founded by the Borough President’s father, David Katz, who was the orchestra’s first music director.
The Borough President was joined at the concert by Assembly member Markey and by Congressman Joseph Crowley, Assembly members Michael Simanowitz and Michael DenDekker, City Council member Julissa Ferreras and Queens Parks Commissioner Lewandowski.
The QSO concert was immediately preceded by a performance by the Beatles tribute band Liverpool Shuffle and immediately followed by a spectacular festival-concluding fireworks show.
Earlier in the day, festival attendees were able to tour historic World’s Fair sites such as the New York State Pavilion, which the Borough President is committed to preserving so that future generations may appreciate its unique history and enjoy its distinctive Space Age architecture. The festival also offered displays of World’s Fair memorabilia, 50-cent rides on the historic Flushing Meadows carousel, a display of one of the video telephones unveiled at the 1964 World’s Fair, an exhibit of restored classic cars (including one of the “Batmobiles” used in the 1960s Batman television series), great food from around the world and many international music and dance performances.
Borough President Katz visited many of the exhibits and was given a rare opportunity to sit in the Batmobile. The Borough President also enjoyed saying hello to festivalgoers and hearing what was on their minds.
Additional World’s Fair anniversary events organized under the auspices of the World’s Fair Anniversary Committee will continue to be held in Queens through October. For a schedule of events and more information, please visit www.itsinqueens.com/worldsfair.