The event celebrated the 52nd anniversary of the park was designated an official New York City park and serves as a fundraiser for the Alliance for Flushing Meadows Corona Park (AFMCP), a public-private partnership founded in 2015 to strengthen the park’s vitality.
“The Evening under the Sphere gala is a great way to support the outstanding work of the AFMCP,” said Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver. “We look forward to continuing this tradition and enjoying food and music with friends and neighbors for years to come.”
The Alliance contributes to the park’s beautification, services, and programming. Money raised from this year’s event will help fund free public programming, such as salsa nights, children’s music and science shows, and theatrical performances.
It will also be used to add gardens at several entrances, build bioswales to help decrease flooding, and build a public restroom near the Unisphere.
“FMCP is one of the most unique in New York City,” said Janice Melnick, executive director of AFMCP. “Perhaps the most distinctive cultural characteristic of the park is the amazing diversity you can find here every day. Community members come to play soccer, volleyball, and cricket, and also hold their family reunions, Quinceañeras, take wedding pictures, and everything in between.
In the past, funds have been used to add trash receptacles and educational signage, support volunteer programs, and pay for seasonal maintenance staff to keep the park safe and clean.
“We have worked to beautify entrances along 111th Street, planted an unused fountain and turned it into a garden, conducted trail restoration work, and made improvements to help alleviate flooding at Meadow Lake,” Melnick said.
Edwin Wong serves on the board of the alliance.
“I competed in the annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in the late 1990s as a paddler and eventually a team manager,” he said of his memories of the park. “I returned annually to watch how it has grown and greet friends that are competing or attending.”
Wong encourages everyone to consider the Adopt-A-Bench program. In fall 2017, he dedicated a bench to commemorate his parents’ 50th anniversary as Queens residents.
“The bench is in front of the Unisphere facing Hong Kong and China, where my parents immigrated from,” he said.
After recently relocating from Chicago, Flushing Meadows Corona Park became Taryn Immel’s calling. An AmeriCorps member, he serves as coordinator of an Environmental Stewardship Team in the park.
“Our stewards are a group of volunteers that enhance the beauty, biodiversity, and accessibility of the park’s natural areas,” he said. “Notable moments include learning more about native plant species and invasives surrounding Meadow Lake from the gardeners, to meeting so many community members passionate about the park’s resources and future.”
The park is located in one of the most diverse areas in the nation.
“I find its location advantageous for bringing people of all backgrounds together to fully participate in their community,” Immel said. “In NYC, open public space is sacred for the well-being of our residents and environment.”
To volunteer, donate or just learn more, visit allianceforfmcp.org.