The annual event raises funds for the alliance, a public-private partnership founded in 2015 to strengthen the park’s vitality.
“From free public programming to new equipment that will help clean the park more efficiently, the Alliance for Flushing Meadows Corona Park is successfully bringing extra services and new amenities to Queens’ flagship park,” said alliance chair and Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver. “Flushing Meadows Corona Park makes more than 9 million New Yorkers and visitors smile each year, and Evening Under the Sphere is a great way to celebrate this iconic park.”
The park is also a major cultural destination, as it is home to the Queens Museum, Queens Zoo, Hall of Science, Terrace on the Park, USTA National Tennis Center, Queens Theatre, and Citi Field.
“Summertime at the park is a great memory growing up, being outside surrounded by greenery and playing soccer, having barbecues, and spending quality time with family,” said Sophia Halkitis of the Citizens' Committee for Children of New York. “Queens is the most diverse borough, and this event is a true culmination and showcase of that diversity.”
Edwin Wong, founder of the Forest Hills Asian Association, is inspired by the park’s distinctive cultural and historic features, such as the Unisphere and New York State Pavilion’s Observation Towers and the Tent of Tomorrow, relics of the 1964 World’s Fair.
“Its preservation is important, as grandparents and parents can share their park experiences with the next generation,” he said. “My mom attended the 1964 World’s Fair and shared her experiences, and I hope to share my park experiences with my son, so he can have his own memories.
“It's amazing how much history the park has, and hopefully through the annual gala, it will increase exposure,” Wong added. “Treat the park like it's your own backyard and help keep it clean.”
One way the public can be a part of the park is through the Adopt-A-Bench Program.
“Last year, I dedicated a park bench to celebrate my parents’ 50th anniversary as Queens residents,” Wong said. “Everyone should consider giving back to the park and honor a loved one or celebrate a special occasion.”
In 2016, the alliance and the Parks Department established the Environmental Stewardship Program to maintain the park's natural environments, including Meadow and Willow lakes.
“While the alliance does not directly fund capital projects, it works closely in identifying needs, and one project is a new wayfinding program to make it easier for the public to navigate through the park,” said alliance executive director Janice Melnick.
From May through October, the alliance helps fund many free public programs, including movie nights, puppet shows, music performances, and free tours. The final event of the year is the popular Shocktoberfest, which takes place on October 28 from noon to 3 p.m. at the Playground for All Children.
“For many years, our friends and neighbors have asked for a non-profit to raise funds for extra services and programs, and we are honored to have distinguished board members who volunteer their time and help support the park,” said Melnick.
For more information on events or how to get involved, visit allianceforfmcp.org.