Gala salutes 50 years of Flushing Meadows
by Michael Perlman
Sep 19, 2017 | 7198 views | 0 0 comments | 194 194 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Alliance for Flushing Meadows Corona Park held its inaugural gala last week to celebrate 50 years since Flushing Meadows was designated a park by the City of New York.

Over 150 guests attended “An Evening Under The Sphere,” sampling foods symbolizing the borough’s various cultures and enjoying presentations on the history and importance of the park.

“We wanted it to be an inviting and beautiful evening under the glow of one of the most iconic public treasures in our park and city,” said alliance executive director Janice Melnick.

Flushing Meadows Corona Park was home to the 1939 and 1964 World's Fairs, and today includes cultural sites like the Queens Museum, Queens Zoo, Hall of Science, Terrace on the Park, USTA Tennis Center and Queens Theatre in the Park.

“Flushing Meadows Corona Park is one of the most important historic parks in New York City,” said Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver. “The park is both a geographical and cultural center for the most culturally diverse borough in the most culturally diverse city in the country, and we take pride in that.”

The gala served as a fundraiser for the group. To date, the alliance has worked to add a portable comfort station, purchase a utility vehicle for maintenance and operations, and introduce more public programming. Currently, they are looking to add new seating areas and beautify the park's entryways.

“We had very modest fundraising goals, but we exceeded them,” said Melnick. “We received over $40,000, and almost everything was pro-bono, so nearly all will go directly back into the park.”

Melnick holds fond recollections of the 1964 World’s Fair from her childhood, but an event that is truly special to her occurred in April 2014.

“When we opened up the New York State Pavilion’s Tent of Tomorrow for hardhat tours, it was a chance for everyone to step inside, remember happy moments, and share the feeling of optimism, achievement, and hope that the pavilion so beautifully represents,” she said. “People came from all over the country.”

Numerous events allowing people access to the pavilion have occurred since then. The next event will be held on October 15.

“These events have allowed the public to come inside for the first time in years to see the New York State Pavilion from a different viewpoint, and see and hear about its history through displays and artifacts,” said Gary Miller, a member of the New York State Pavilion Paint Project, a 100 percent volunteer effort to repaint the Tent of Tomorrow.

The Queens Botanical Garden evolved from the five-acre “Gardens on Parade” exhibit of the 1939 World’s Fair. In 1946, local residents preserved and expanded the exhibit and the garden remained at the World’s Fair site until 1961, when it relocated to 43-50 Main Street.

“Among the original plantings from the 1939 site are two blue atlas cedars that frame the iconic tree gate sculpture at the Garden’s Main Street entrance today,” said executive director Susan Lacerte. “We like to think Queens Botanical Garden and Flushing Meadows Corona Park are sibling sites where people from all over can gather, learn, and enjoy nature.”

John Wang hosts the popular Queens International Night Market at the Hall of Science.

“Queens' flagship public space is about diversity and accessibility,” he said. “It's a welcoming place for so many people from different walks of life, and it’s about ensuring that everyone can enjoy the space as they like.”

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