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America’s favorite centenarian comedian is back, and as he might say: “Alive and kicking!” George Burns was an Oscar-winning actor, singer, dancer, funnyman and best-selling author during a lifetime that began in 1896 and ended in 1996. This weekend, he returns to the stage thanks to artist Alan Safier in the Tony-nominated Say Goodnight Gracie. This one-man show launches Queens Theatre’s jam-packed 2014-2015 season, which includes visits by Martha Graham Dance Company and Ballet Hispánico, family plays like Charlotte’s Web, special seasonal events such as A Christmas Carol, and the in-house residency of the Titan Theatre Company.

Click here for a full programMore information and images after the jump.

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This is truly an out-of-this-world experience. On Sunday, the Queens Museum will facilitate Solar System Walk, Vol. 2, a guided, 1.5-hour, family-friendly stroll through Chris Burden’s Scale Model of the Solar System, which is located in the museum and throughout the surrounding area.

Some explanation. Burden has created a scale model in size and distance of the solar system. The sun is represented by a sphere 13 inches in diameter and 40 inches in circumference that shines above the Panorama of the City of New York (above photo). The other planets are placed at the correct relative distances from the sun.

The tour – led by PJ Gubatina Policarpio, a curator and museum educator who is interested in the intersection of art, history, creativity, and identity — will start at the sun and end at pluto, which is at Leo’s Latticini, the famous Italian food store at 46-02 104th Street in Corona. (Forget about whether Pluto was downgraded as a planet or not.)

Details: Solar System Walk, Queens Museum, New York City Building, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, September 21st, 3:30 pm to 5 pm, free, but spots are limited. For more information and to RSVP, send an email to exhibitions@queensmuseum.org.

Photo: Chris Burden

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Excuse the pun, but this really is the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth. This weekend the New York Hall of Science will host its fifth annual Maker Faire, which has been described as “the ultimate geek fest,” but is actually a family-friendly celebration of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness. More than 750 makers — including tech enthusiasts, crafters, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubbers, and artists  – will be at the Flushing Meadows Corona Park venue, showing off their DIY creations and hands-on activities. Expect everything from personal drones to humanoid robots that can take blood pressure and dispense medications. Cupcake cars, Swap-O-Rama-Rama, and smart lamps are possible.

More photos and a partial list of inventions that will be on display after the jump.

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09/10/14 1:00pm

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Hindus cleanse their sins by making an offering into a body of water. India’s Ganges River is the world’s most famous spot for this ritual, which is called “Ganga Pooja,” but the most common Queens venue is a Jamaica Bay beach on the Broad Channel side of the Joseph P. Addabbo Memorial Bridge.

Of course, practitioners of this religion are not the only ones who leave litter in Jamaica Bay, but many of their offerings are not biodegradable. Thus, after the Ganga Poojas first appeared roughly 25  years ago, they immediately attracted negative attention from residents of Howard Beach, Broad Channel, and the Rockaways. Enter Sadhana, an NYC-based coalition of Hindus bent on asserting principles of tolerance and inclusiveness. (more…)

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Past attendees include former President Bill Clinton, current First Lady Michelle Obama, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Alec Baldwin, and Rafael Nadal. For some it’s the unofficial start to the U.S. Open and a tribute to an athletic and civil rights legend, but for others, it’s an entertainment-heavy day full of pop culture sensations, exhibitions by professional tennis players, and a smorgasbord of activities and fun.

This Saturday, Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day will take place at the USTA Billie Jean National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Youngsters of all skill levels will participate in tennis and fitness activities, often with shorter courts, smaller rackets and less bouncy balls, while others will do drills to increase agility, balance, coordination, speed, and strength. There will also be a juggling workshop, hair beading and braiding, balloon artists, roving entertainers, and appearances by Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob, Dora, and Diego. Serena Williams and Andy Murray will be on hand this year, and the concert features chart-toppers such as The Bomb Digz, Kalin and Myles, Hollywood Ending and Karina Rae.

Details and photos after the jump. (more…)

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It’s basically the best tennis on Planet Earth, and it’s completely free with no long lines. The U.S. Open Qualifying Tournament will begin tomorrow with 128 men and 128 women competing for 32 entries (16 men and 16 women) in the main draws. For four days, up-and-coming stars from around the world will battle each other at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, and spectators can simply walk around and check out the matches. The circuit’s best players (i.e. Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams) get direct berths into the main draw, but they might be on site, practicing for opening day on August 25th.

Details: U.S. Open Qualifying Tournament, USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, August 19th through August 22nd, 10 am to around 6 pm, free.

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Photos: USTA

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The New York State Pavilion isn’t the only World’s Fair relic in the spotlight. According to the Queens Courier, the Olmstead Center — the 1964 building used as temporary offices for Robert Moses and the World’s Fair Corporation staff — is getting a modern day makeover. The building is now used as a headquarters for the Parks Department. BKSK Architects is working on the renovation in two phases. The first phase includes an expansion with a new 10,000-square-foot annex building. That part of the project is nearly done. For the second phase, BKSK will add technology upgrades and building improvements to help with flooding problems. There will also be new siding for the building and a more disability-friendly interior space. The whole project should be complete by early next year 2015.

The Parks Department is now collecting bids for a contractor, due September 8th. Check out more renderings from BKSK after the jump.

Former 1964 World’s Fair Office Building Set for Upgrade [Queens Courier] (more…)

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The Design Trust for Public Space just gave the Queens Museum and the Parks Department a portion of a $100,000 grant to help people travel through the massive (900 acres!) Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. DNAinfo wrote this morning that there’s a proposal floating around to install wayfinding signage throughout the park. The Parks Department, the Design Trust and the Queens Museum plan to work with the community and refine the proposal ASAP — the Parks Department said signage is one of the biggest priorities here.

The grant comes from the Design Trust’s “The Energetic City: Connectivity in the Public Realm” program. The Trust asked applicants to “redefine NYC’s public space” and granted funds to four different proposals, including this one. The amount of money to be allocated to the wayfinding program isn’t set yet.

More Wayfinding Signs May be Coming to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park [DNAinfo]

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Qu Yuan had a rather difficult life, but he left a tremendous legacy. This super-patriotic court minister fell out of favor with the king, who banished him from his home state of Chu. Yuan then wandered the earth, writing poetry in praise of his beloved homeland until one day in 278 BC, when he heard that Chu had been conquered by the Qin Dynasty. In despair, he jumped into the Miluo River in Hunan Province and drown, as local fisherman rowed boats into the water and threw rice dumplings at his body to save it from hungry fish. Yuan’s death was the birth of dragon boat racing, which takes place each year on the fifth day of the fifth lunar year around the world. Rice dumplings are served all day, and after the races, it is customary to observe outdoor theater, traditional Chinese dance performances, martial arts, and other cultural demonstrations.

This Saturday, the 24th annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in New York will kick off in Flushing Meadows Corona Park with a parade at noon. Then, more than 2,000 participants — organized into over 170 teams — will compete in various race categories in Meadow Lake over the weekend. As it is the 75th and 50th anniversaries of the two Queens World’s Fairs, there will be a municipal invitational race featuring teams from the offices of Mayor Bill De Blasio, Borough President Melinda Katz, Congresswoman Grace Meng, and Assemblyman Ron Kim. Visitors will also be able to enjoy martial arts by the Shaolin Monks and West Indian music by the CASYM Steel Orchestra, as well as traditional Asian folk arts and crafts and a diverse food court. 

Details and photos after the jump. (more…)

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Thank God It’s Thursday! Tonight, the Queens Museum offers the first installment of Passport Thursdays, a weekly series featuring outdoor music, dance, and film. Set to run from 7 pm until 10 pm, each presentation will have an ethnic theme, and the Flushing Meadows Corona Park venue will offer free, hands-on artmaking workshops before each movie starts. As an extra benefit, the galleries and cafe will stay open until 8 pm these nights. (In the case of rain, Passport Thursdays will move inside the museum.)

India is the focus on July 31st. Sonali Skandan & Jiva Dance (above) will present Bharatanatyam, a classical dance form of South India. The scheduled movie is The World Before Her, which tells the story of two young women who follow completely divergent paths in modernizing India. One wants to become Miss India; the other is a fierce Hindu Nationalist prepared to kill and die for her beliefs.

Information and photos on the following three Passport Thursdays are on the jump page.

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