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Friday, April 20, 2012 - Page updated at 01:00 p.m.

Big kickoff day celebrates 50th anniversary of our World's Fair

By Madeline McKenzie
Seattle Times staff

Saturday is opening day of "The Next 50," Seattle Center's six-month celebration looking back at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair and ahead to Seattle Center and Seattle's next 50 years.

Opening ceremonies at 10:30 a.m. in the Mural Amphitheater include speakers and the Seattle Men's Chorus, kicking off a day of entertainment by local marching bands, choirs and performers and concluding at 4:30 p.m. with "The Chair Spectacle": 200 community members in procession to the International Fountain with movement performed on and around chairs, accompanied by music related to the 1962 World's Fair.

Festivities throughout Saturday include a skateboarding party, zip-line rides, a beer garden with trivia games, and a variety of food trucks and carts.

Displays include "Celebrating Century 21" featuring "The Future Remembered" artifacts from the 1962 World's Fair, and a traveling history exhibit, "Centuries of Progress, America's World's Fairs, 1853-1982," open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, Saturday through Oct. 21.

Other exhibits opening Saturday include "Our Sustainable Futures Experience" and "Earth Portal: A Guided Tour of the Universe," in the Next 50 Pavilion, and NASA's "Driven to Explore" exhibit, in the renovated Armory/Center House.

The Next 50 celebration continues through Oct. 21, the closing date of the World's Fair in 1962. Major upcoming events include opening of the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibition in late May and the May 25 debut of the Seattle Center Playway inflatable rides and zip line.

Continuing events include Century 21 Walking Tours exploring the legacies of the World's Fair, hosted by the Museum of History & Industry on the first and third Saturdays and second and fourth Thursdays of each month through Oct. 20.

Include some of the fair's most famous attractions as part of your day: The Monorail departs approximately every 10 minutes, 8:30 a.m.-11 p.m., from Westlake Mall Station, and the Space Needle Observation Deck opens Saturday at 9:30 a.m. (closing early for a private party at 4 p.m., with last admission sold at 3 p.m.).

The details

Time: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday.

Cost: Free, except for Earth Portal attraction, Monorail and Space Needle.

Location: Seattle Center

Getting there: Metro Transit service, 206-553-3000 or tripplanner.kingcounty.gov/; Sound Transit, 206-398-5000 or soundtransit.org; Seattle Center Monorail, 206-905-2620 or www.seattlemonorail.com.

More information: 206-684-7200 or www.seattlecenter.com.

Century 21 Walking Tours: 90-minute walking tours of Seattle Center campus, 10 a.m. second and fourth Thursdays and 11 a.m. first and third Saturdays, through Oct. 20, Seattle Center; $5, advanced reservations encouraged, day-of tickets subject to availability (206-324-1126, Ext. 66, or seattlehistory.org/visit_us/calendar.php?type=6).

Madeline McKenzie: 206-464-8245 or mmckenzie@seattletimes.com

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