Saving the rusting New York State Pavilion and celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1964-65 World’s Fair isn’t just a tremendous professional goal for Borough President Melinda Katz.
It’s also a deeply personal one.
At the end of Friday’s press conference to announce a six-month-long series of events to celebrate the global gathering’s golden anniversary, Katz, who often jokes about attending the World’s Fair in 1964 “in utero,” briefly spoke of her late parents, who were extremely influential in the arts and culture scenes in Queens.
“The World’s Fair meant a lot to my family. Arts and culture and tourism was the lifeblood of my family,” Katz said. “It is what we stood for. It is what they spent their entire careers dedicated to in the borough of Queens.”
The main attraction of the upcoming series of celebrations will be the anniversary festival at Flushing Meadows Corona Park on May 18, where the Queens Symphony, which Katz’s father David founded and conducted, will close the night with a concert adjacent to the Unisphere, similar to a performance her father led decades earlier.
After the press conference, Katz admitted how much personal interest she has in celebrating the World’s Fair in an interview with the Chronicle.
“The personal is certainly a driving factor, it’s like the culmination of their careers,” she said. “I think the fact that I’m carrying the banner of Queens so high, they would be proud of that.”
Katz’s mother Jeanne founded the Queens Council on the Arts in 1966 shortly before her death three years later.
Katz will have been in office for only five months on May 18, but she says that one of the biggest reasons the series of events to commemorate the World’s Fair came together so quickly was because doing nothing was not an option.
“Part of the reason it’s come together so quick is because it had to,” Katz said. “It’s going to be a nice night. I think they would be very proud.”