Near-Panic Scene...                                                      ...Gryotron Breaks Down                          

310,000 Overwhelm Expo

MONTRÉAL (CP-Staff) - Expo 67's first public day was almost too successful.

Happy crowds which streamed through the turnstiles 310,000 strong -- nearly double original first day attendance estimates -- played havoc with facilities.

•  Computers designed to keep hourly track of the crowds broke down;
•  The $3,000,000 Gryotron ride stalled 215 feet in the air;
•  Panicky crowds overloaded the Expo Express almost to the breaking point.

Located in the La Ronde amusement area on the eastern tip of St. Helen's Island, the spectacular 215-foot Gyrotron proved one of the early hitches in Expo 67.

Auxiliary power was used to bring to safety passengers trapped inside the structure. Cause of the trouble a broken shaft, will close the ride until noon Sunday. An engineer is being flown in from Britain to fix the ride.

Several thousands Expo visitors thought they might ride forever on the Expo Express after thousands swarmed the platform for the trip back to Montréal's northern shore.

Crowds, which gathered after pavilions closed at 9:30 p.m., were too much for harried security guards, outnumbered thousands to one.

As cars pulled to stop at the platforms, the milling crowd, standing 10 to 15 deep, started pushing, creating a near-panic scene as those in front were shoved against the trains.

People on the train couldn't get off because of passengers surging on and blocking exits. At one point trains simply sped past waiting customers to avoid further pushing matches.

However, the nightly fireworks display in La Ronde drew most of the crowd away and by 11 p.m., normal service was restored.

With continued good weather the original estimate of 239,000 for today was likely to be exceeded.

- End of article. Copyright by the Canadian Press, April 29, 1967. All rights reserved.