Graham Crusade Poster

Thinking Green by Franco Mondini-Ruiz

This whimsical six foot high flower head chia sculpture appeared in its own small fenced-in alcove a short time before Billy Graham's Crusade came into town. It is one of several new innovative features that appeared in the park for the Summer 05 season. Click to Read Artist Franco Mondini-Ruiz's Plaque

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The back office folks who planned Billy Graham's Evangelical Crusade were very thorough and left no stone unturned to bring off a flawless event. Signs, maps, guides, translators and security people were conspicuously posted throughout the event area. A fleet of chauffeured golf carts whizzed to and fro carrying precious payloads of VIPs from parking lots to event locals. There were even a few motorized trams moving passengers around the park - very reminiscent of the Flushing Meadows tram fleet that worked the two World's Fairs. All in all, Graham's Crusaders were professionally shepherded from the time they entered the park.

Lost and Found Tent

Trying for a Front Row Seat

Could the acres of empty seats aligned in military precision be the work of an overactive imagination, an indication that someone made a very big mistake by vastly overestimating the size of the crowd, or at least, that's how it appeared at high noon. People were straggling in, and a casual observer might think the few who rushed across the makeshift theater floor trying to bag a good seat were suffering from heat stroke. On top of the apparent seating blunder, a large area at the rear was set aside for standing room. Was this yet another miscue?

Awaiting the Crusaders

An Ocean of Empty Seats

Enter the Crusaders

Waiting to go through the Security Gates

As the shadows grew long, the crowd continued to mount, until the park was bursting at the seems. A long line stretched from the train station across Unisphere Plaza to the Crusade security gate, where people's bags were searched before they could gain entrance to the event. This was a patient, well behaved crowd, but as soon as the crusaders passed into the event area, the evangelical spirit broke out. These people were here on a mission, and the general mood was distinctly upbeat.

Waiting, and Waiting With the Patience of a Saint

Line Stretching Across Unisphere Plaza to the Train Station

Searching for a Seat

The Audiance Hangs on Every Word

It soon became obvious, there would not be enough seats to go around, and perhaps the standing room area needed to be extended. Billy Graham is an exceptionally skilled orator, and his sermon on the occasion was tailored for this particular audience in this very special place; "I am happy to be here in Flushing Meadows Corona Park today," he said. "The young United Nations met in this park while they waited for their permanent home to be built across the river in Manhattan. The state of Israel was born right here in Flushing Meadows," his voice rising over the thunderous applause. The good reverend, Billy Graham, has said that 2005 may be the year of his final crusade. Whatever the future holds, the audience touched by the gentle summer breeze here at Flushing Meadows Corona Park experienced an extraordinary, uplifting happening, and they enjoyed every minute of it.

Standing Room Only Crowd

The State of Israel Was Born Right Here in Flushing Meadows

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