Impact of World’s Fair Still Evident Today
Contributed By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer
- The Parham family visited the World’s Fair in 1964.
- Thirteen months later, missionaries visited their home, and they were baptized.
- The Parhams and many of their children then served missions.
“I am so grateful for the NY World’s Fair of 1965!” —Carol Parham, convert from the World’s Fair
In the September 21, 2014, Church News, a cover article gave a retrospective on the Mormon Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair of 1964 and 1965. A slightly different version of the article appeared some days later in a special section of the Deseret News published on the occasion of the then-upcoming general conference of the Church.
The article contained this line: “Perhaps the most important legacy of the pavilion is the convert baptisms that came of it.”
A number of readers wrote in by email to share their own experiences pertaining to the fair. Among them was Carol Parham of Palm Harbor, Florida, who wrote:
“As a family our introduction to Mormonism came from an unplanned visit to the 1964 World’s Fair.
“My late husband was in sales at the time and, after a frustrating morning, came home and said, ‘Let’s go to the world’s fair.’
“Now, I believe there are no coincidences; things happen for a reason.
“Our six-year-old daughter was going through a difficult time. She would wake up every night and be crying because she was afraid if she died she would be alone. We were church-goers, and our minister and her Sunday School teacher both took time to talk to her and tried to reassure her that she would not be alone. As parents, we told her of the love of her Heavenly Father, but nothing appeased her sweet little mind—until we stopped at the Mormon Pavilion that very hot August afternoon and enjoyed a respite in the air-conditioned comfort of a little movie theater where Man’s Search for Happiness was playing.
“When the film was over, our little girl stood up and exclaimed, ‘Oh, that’s how it’s going to be. That’s good!’
“Yes, we signed the guest register, and it took 13 months for the missionaries to come knocking at our door as a result of that visit. We were baptized in that year, 1965, along with our nine-year-old son. Our three little daughters each followed on their eighth birthdays.
“As a result of that visit the following ensued:
“Our son served a mission in England, and his son served a mission in England.
“Two daughters married returned missionaries, and two of their sons have served missions in Mexico and the Philippines.
“My husband and I served 18 months in the Kenya Nairobi Mission.
“I am so grateful for the NY World’s Fair of 1965!”