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“From the World’s Fair to the World’s Park.” Expect to hear this new slogan a lot over the next six months as part of a dual effort to rebrand Flushing Meadows Corona Park and celebrate the 50th and 75th anniversaries of the World’s Fairs that took place there. Yesterday, Maspeth-based Assemblywoman Margaret M. Markey, who chairs the NY State Assembly’s Tourism, Parks, Culture and Sports Committee, announced a $100,000 grant to the Queens Tourism Council to help it promote local World’s Fair commemorative events over the next six months. Cultural institutions such as the Queens Botanical Garden, Queens Museum, Queens Theatre and New York Hall of Science are planning special activities related to these anniversaries, and NYC Parks is ready to host a World’s Fair Festival on May 18.  (Click here to see all the events.) Borough President Melinda Katz is also involved, co-chairing the World’s Fair Anniversary Committee with Assemblymember Markey and spearheading an effort to promote the Flushing green space as the “World’s Park.” These two elected officials will join other Queens leaders near the NY State Pavilion on April 22 to mark the exact 50th anniversary of the opening ceremonies for the 1964 World’s Fair. The rumor is that they will sing the National Anthem.

Editor’s Note: There was a pleasant surprise at yesterday’s Queens Tourism Council meeting at Queens Theatre. Mookie Wilson, a former Mets centerfielder who starred in the 1986 Worlds Series, passed by while taking a walk through Flushing Meadows Corona Park. He joined the photo and is seen standing, second from extreme left. Assemblywoman Markey is standing in the exact middle.

04/01/14 1:00pm

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With many original species and more than 100 years of commercial cultivating experience, Taiwan is the world’s largest exporter of orchids with an estimated 86 countries buying types of this diverse, flagrant and flowering plant from the East Asian island. This Saturday, the Queens Botanical Garden and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office will celebrate spring by hosting Taiwan: A World of Orchids. As expected, a stunning display of blooming flowers and some tasty recipes from the homeland are in the mix, but the event will also feature children’s crafts (10 am to 5 pm or while supplies last), a Techno Prince Dancing Doll performance (12:45 pm), a garden tour (1 pm), a tea ceremony (1:45 pm) and a live musical performance (around 2 pm). The fun continues on Sunday with a plant sale featuring — what else? — a wide selection of orchids.

Details: Taiwan: A World of Orchids, Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main Street, Flushing, April 5th, 9 am to 5 pm, free with admission ($4 adults/$3 seniors/$2 students with ID and children over three).

Photo: HD Backgrounds Point

03/18/14 1:00pm

Four girls eating Belgian Waffles

It’s time to party like it’s 1939… or 1964. Queens is the only county in the U.S. to host two World’s Fairs, and both historic events are celebrating major anniversaries this year (the fiftieth and seventy-fifth, respectively). On April 30, 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt inaugurated the first one in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, which had just been created from a large tidal marsh and garbage dump. The air conditioner made its debut, as did color photographs, fluorescent lamps, nylon and pencil sharpeners. Early television sets and a futurist GM car were the rage as was a diner, which was relocated and is still open for business as the White Manna in Jersey City, NJ. Meanwhile Goldie Hawn, a teenager who had just moved from Maryland to NYC to pursue a career in showbiz, was discovered as a chorus line dancer at the Texas pavilion during the 1964 World’s Fair. The Ford Mustang, Unisphere and Belgian waffle (above) all owe part of their fame to this fair, which actually ran for two, six-month seasons in 1964 and 1965 and attracted more than 51 million people. Corona resident Louis Armstrong (arriving at the scene below) played his trumpet, and various countries and regions promoted their good sides. Wisconsin had a pavilion exhibiting the planet’s largest chunk of cheese, while Miami displayed a parrot jungle, and Hawaii operated the Five Volcanoes restaurant.

On March 22nd, this year’s first World’s Fair-related commemorative event will take place when the Greater Astoria Historical Society screens The World of Tomorrow, a film on the 1939 Fair. Then, over the next six months, the  New York Hall of Science, Noguchi Museum, Parks Department, Queens Botanical Garden, Queens Center, Queens Historical Society, Queens Museum, Queens Theatre, The Port Authority of NY & NJ and other local entities, such as the Louis Armstrong House Museum and the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel, will hold exhibits, plays, concerts and even a beer festival to commemorate.

Details: Click here for a full list of events, times and locations.

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03/06/14 4:00pm

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Today the Queens Botanical Garden announced that Macy’s and the National Recreation and Park Association will support the QBG through its “Heart Your Park” initiative this spring. Through the initiative, Macy’s stores around the country selected more than 500 local parks and green spaces to help raise money for. So from March 7th until March 31st, customers can donate $1 or more at their local store and 100 percent of donations will benefit that store’s selected park. Macy’s will match the total donation dollar for dollar up until $250,000.

Donations for QBG will be accepted at the register at both the Macy’s Flushing and Queens Center Mall (Rego Park) stores. Here’s a statement from QBG’s Executive Director Susan Lacerte: “We are thrilled to partner with Macy’s and NRPA for ‘Heart Your Park’ this spring. Through this wonderful program and donations by Macy’s customers, we are excited about the increased awareness and additional funding for Queens Botanical Garden. This park is a great asset to the community, and we greatly appreciate Macy’s support.”

Photo via queensbotanical.org

02/12/14 1:00pm

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Red-tailed hawks, ring-necked pheasants and American robins, oh my! Dozens and dozens of bird species make their homes (or temporary homes) at the Queens Botanical Garden, and it’s time to take a census. This Saturday, the Flushing green space will participate in the 17th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, a global effort conducted by Bird Studies Canada, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. Led by QBG staffer and birding enthusiast Shari Romar, this family-friendly event will resemble nature walk mixed with a scavenger hunt. The results will be added to those submitted from around the world to www.BirdCount.org. The data will help naturalists track migrations and avian populations in order to make informed conservation decisions.

Details: Great Backyard Bird Count, Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main Street, Flushing, February 15th, 11 am, free but registration is required via email to sromar@queensbotanical.org.

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01/23/14 1:00pm

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It’s the first — and many say the best — after-party of the year. On February 8th, the 18th annual Flushing Lunar New Year Parade will kick off at Union Street and 37th Avenue at about 10 am. Roughly 4,000 participants, including dragon dancers, steel drummers, prancing unicorns and plenty of fireworks lovers, will march up Main Street to 39th Avenue to welcome the Year of the Horse. After the outdoor fun, the festive mood will head to the Queens Botanical Garden, where a three-hour celebration will begin with a traditional Chinese tea ceremony at 1 pm. Participants will mix their own herbal tea bags, and youngsters will create peat pot horses at an activity table. At 2 pm, the New York Chinese Chorus (above), accompanied by musicians with traditional Chinese instruments, will give its first of two 45-minute performances.

Details: Lunar New Year Celebration, Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main Street, Flushing, February 8th, 1 pm, Free, but fees apply for certain activities (first come, first served and supplies are limited; seating for performances is limited too).

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01/08/14 1:00pm

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The Queens Botanical Garden is thinking globally and acting locally. This Sunday, all are invited to drop off unwanted or broken electronics at the Flushing nonprofit, which will dispose of them for free. The 11th Annual After The Holidays E-Waste Event, sponsored by the Lower East Side Ecology Center and TekServe, gets its impetus from the fact that e-waste is responsible for about 70 percent of the toxins in U.S. landfills, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, while consisting of only about 1 percent of the volume in those landfills. Furthermore, e-waste often contains poisons such as lead, cadmium, mercury and flame-retardants. The EPA also claims that recycling e-waste reduces pollution, separates hazardous chemicals from water streams and the atmosphere. In fact, beginning in 2015, e-waste will be banned from regular trash by law. Among the items that QBG will accept are tangles of broken holiday lights, computers, faxes, cell phones, televisions, stereo equipment, printers, TVs, VCRs, DVDs and cameras. (Click here for a complete list.) And as an extra enticement, QBG will host children’s crafts workshops using recycled and repurposed items from 1 pm to 3 pm.

Details: After The Holidays E-Waste Event, QBG Parking Garden, 42-80 Crommelin Street, Flushing, January 12th, 10 am to 4 pm, Rain or Shine, Free.

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12/05/13 1:00pm

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Technically, it’s when the sun reaches its most southern declination. Effectively, it’s the shortest day of the year in terms of daylight hours for those living north of the Equator. Artistically, it’s has been the inspiration for dance, literature, mythology, painting, religion and ritual for centuries. Locally, it’s the perfect time to head to the Queens Botanical Garden. On December 8th, the Flushing oasis will celebrate the winter solstice with live music by the acappella group Rough Dozen, botanical craft workshops, a special holiday market, garden tours and a tree lighting that morphs into a seasonal sing-along. There’s also a rumor that Santa Claus will show up.

Details: Winter Solstice Celebration, Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main Street, Flushing, December 8th, 12:30 pm to 5 pm, Free. (QBG admission is free from November 1st through March 31st.)

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11/11/13 3:00pm

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A few improvements are in the works for the Queens Botanical Garden in Flushing, reports Queens Chronicle. According to the Chronicle, “A $3.15 million designation from capital funds will be used primarily to upgrade the Flushing garden’s pathways. An additional $114,764 will be allocated to pay for the design of a geothermal heating well.” Some pathways will be replaced with pavers, while other pathways will receive fancy-looking asphalt. Funding will also cover an improved entrance and a new entrance plaza at College Point Boulevard, as well as a better drainage system and an automatic irrigation system for the northeastern end of the garden. The new geothermal heating well will be used for the visitor center. No word on a timeline for all these improvements.

Funding Readied for Botanical Garden [Queens Chronicle] GMAP

Rendering by the Queens Botanical Garden via Queens Chronicle

10/23/13 4:00pm

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The Queens Botanical Garden is debuting a new art exhibit at its Gallery of the Visitor and Administration Building on Tuesday, November 5th. It’s H. David Stein’s “Deconstructed Flowers,” a mosaic of flora photography that is distinctively detailed. According to the QBG, “His intricate photographs pull out the dimensional presence of flowers using a special technique which layers multiple photographs into a single montage. The end result shows many views of the flower’s beauty in a single image.” Stein previously served as the chairman of surgery at Flushing Hospital and started studying at the International Center of Photography after retirement. He has since shown his work at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., the Salmagundi Club and The Mamaroneck Artist Guild. The Queens Botanical Garden exhibit will be on view to the public for free Tuesdays through Saturdays, 8 am to 4 pm. The exhibit will run until Saturday, January 25th.