50,000,000 Within Reach

Human Flood Rolls Across Expo Grounds

MONTRÉAL (CP) -- The dam burst at Expo 67 Friday as a Niagara of visitors poured through the turnstiles to set new attendance records throughout the day.

By midnight, 428,978 visitors passed the gates bringing the total attendance to 49,652,397. Surpassing of the magic 50,000,000 number seemed certain today.

The fair closes Sunday.

Fleshing out the figures were thousands of screaming, exuberant youngsters, set free from school so they could see the fair for a last time. The provincial government had ordered a school holiday Friday so school children could spend the day at Expo.


Expo's official opening time of 9:30 a.m. went by the board as a huge jam of early birds persuaded authorities to open the gates at 8:15 a.m.  From there on it was record-breaking all the way.

The forecast attendance of 285,000 for Friday was passed before 3 p.m.  The highest recorded total attendance for one day was 569,500 reached April 30.

Everywhere on the site school children rolled on the grass, straddled fences, danced in muddy puddles, played tag through lineups and shrieked at the tops of their voices.

Giant lineups snaked like over-fed boa constrictors 'round the pavilions of Czechoslovakia, the U.S., the U.S.S.R. and Labyrinth.

Notre Dame Island and La Ronde, the fair's two most popular areas, looked like ant hills with visitors surging in and out of the exhibits and blotting intervening pavement from view.

Friday was the day on which Expo officially should closed, making it 183 days from the official April 28 opening. The International Bureau of Exhibitions, however, gave permission for two extra days so the fair would end on a weekend.

All over the site security obviously had been tightened as a precaution against last-minute looting by souvenir hunters.

Trucks were being searched by Expo security men as they left the site and all pavilions had security men on watch at strategic points.

Several pavilions were missing small items Friday but no major thefts were reported.

Meanwhile, Friday was a busy day for Expo's top men as they hammered out final details for the Sunday closing ceremonies.

Sunday, the official closing day, ends at 4:35 after a banging, sparkling 45-minute fireworks show over an emptying site.

An expected 4,000 VIP visitors on special invitations, plus as many of the public who can crowd Expo's outskirts, will watch the final rockets and whiz-bangs soar skywards from Cite du Havre and Notre Dame Island.

Turnstiles will close to the public at 2 p.m. after official ceremonies in Place des Nations attended by the Governor-General, Prime Minister Pearson, Québec's Premier Daniel Johnson and Mayor Jean Drapeau.

Minirails, hovercraft, gondolas, pedicabs and trailer trains will halt at their stations at 3:50 p.m. while officials scurry to evacuate the site by 4 p.m.

Friday night, empty  showcases and display stands in several pavilions, testified to official attempts to keep last-minute pilfering to a minimum. Boutiques sold off their last souvenirs and restaurants popped the corks on their last wine bottles.

- End of article. Copyright by the Canadian Press, October 28, 1967. All rights reserved.