Pavilion opened for 50th anniversary of World’s Fair

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Photo gallery

Visitors are allowed inside the New York State Pavilion. Photo by Ken Maldonado
Michael Zorek of Brooklyn shows off his old photos from the 1964 World's Fair. Photo by Bill Parry
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz sings the National Anthem before the opening of the New York State Pavilion. Photo by Ken Maldonado
Elected officials and Queens leaders gather together for a photo in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Photo by Bill Parry
Hundreds of people wait in line to tour the New York State Pavilion. Photo by Bill Parry

Organizers of the World’s Fair 50th anniversary celebration were shocked by the tremendous turnout Tuesday as thousands lined up and waited hours for their chance to enter the iconic New York State Pavilion in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, a co-chairwoman of the Anniversary Committee, marveled at the crowd.

“This is great. We’ve been working for months on this and it’s satisfying to see, plus it’s good to showcase the borough and bring all these people to Queens. Hopefully, they’ll all come back for all our events throughout the summer,” she said.

City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst), who grew up playing in the park and now represents part of Flushing Meadows, said, “It’s wonderful to see all these people coming back home, even all these young people who weren’t even here for the World’s Fair.”

The Pavilion has been designated a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, officials announced at a news conference during the day-long event. It is one of only 44 sites in the country to bear this designation.

“We’ve been working with the National Trust for some time now,” U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) said. “[Former U.S. Rep.] Gary Ackerman had the resolution in 2009 for designation. It will make it eligible for tax credits so we can fix it up.”

Crowley joined Katz and other elected leaders in singing a rendition of the Disney classic “It’s a Small World” before the gates swung open to allow members of the public inside for the first time since 1987.

John Piro, founder of the volunteer group Pavilion Paint Project, said, “This day marks an event of the rebirth of the New York State Pavilion. We are determined to bring back the excitement and energy that the 1964 NY World’s Fair brought to Queens and the City of New York.”

And it’s just the beginning of a spring and summer chocked full of events, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1964 World’s Fair as well as the 75th anniversary of the 1939 World’s Fair.

“It all starts on May 18 with a kickoff party and runs throughout the summer. Stay updated on our website itsinqueens.org,” Katz said.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718.260.4538.

Updated 4:41 pm, April 22, 2014
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