Flushing Meadows Corona Park in New York City is celebrating the 75th and 50th anniversaries, respectively, of the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs it hosted.
The 1,200-acre Queens venue will revisit the spirit of those years with a commemorative festival on Sunday, May 18. The day-long event will include family-friendly activities including tours of historic sites, cultural music and food, 50-cent rides on the iconic carousel, and much more.
Coca-Cola had a significant presence at the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs, which welcomed more than 95 million people combined. At the ‘39 fair, which was the first to focus on the future with the theme of “A World of Tomorrow”, a fully functioning Coca-Cola bottling churned out 100 bottles a minute for thirsty guests.
“We also had an 80-foot-long soda fountain counter,” adds Coca-Cola Archivist Ted Ryan, “and above it, a 3-D mural and 21 giant photo transparencies illustrating Coke’s presence around the world."
A short animated film titled “Refreshing the World Over” also showcased the brand’s global reach and acceptance. “People were getting to see things they’d never seen before,” Ryan added. “It represented a major investment for the company.”
The “World of Refreshment” welcomed an average of 24,000 guests per day during the 1964 World’s Fair. At the heart of the pavilion was a two-story, elliptical building featuring a “Global Holiday” exhibit, which took visitors on a virtual tour of five world-renowned destinations -- Hong Kong, the Taj Mahal, Bavaria, Cambodia and Rio de Janeiro -- with a multisensory experience.
“Think Disney World,” Ryan explains. “These carefully recreated scenes included 3-D montage murals that made guests feel like they were in a Cambodian jungle or the slopes of Bavaria.”
Coke has been involved in major international expos since the early-1900s, but its first documented presence at an officially sanctioned World’s Fair was in 1933 at the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago, where the company unveiled the first fountain dispenser that combined syrup and carbonated water in a single unit.
“The brand has always been a natural fit for events that bring people together, and the World’s Fair is no exception,” concluded Ryan, adding that Coca-Cola Italy is currently preparing for the 2015 World’s Fair in Milan.
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