5 Months and 22 Million Visitors Later--Expo 86 Ends in Style

Associated Press

More than 26,000 Expo 86 employees and volunteers marched arm-in-arm Monday to celebrate the end of the 5 1/2-month world's fair that drew 9 million more visitors than originally predicted.

About 50,000 people in the stands at the indoor B.C. Place Stadium, many in tears, watched as leaders of the U.S. and Soviet pavilions joined hands and led the procession onto midfield.

On the fair's final day, 138,050 people passed through the turnstiles before the gates closed at 3 p.m. That brought total attendance to 22,111,578.

Revised Numbers

The budget for Expo 86 was based on projections of 13 million visits. But the fair drew so well that the projection was revised twice, first to 20 million, then to 22 million.

Officials watched delightedly as attendance records were set and broken throughout the last weekend, which was blessed by unusually warm weather and bright sunshine.

Long lines snaked across much of the 174-acre site in this city in British Columbia, and, in some cases, people waited for hours.

The most popular exhibits were the Soviet pavilion, featuring a spacecraft that visitors could walk through, the Rameses II exhibit and the Scream Machine roller coaster.

'Met Good People'

"The feeling of the fair is what's fun," said Bob Hargis of Santa Cruz. "We've met a lot of good people--from Australia, Czechoslovakia, Oregon, Washington, Mexico--just talking in line."

Most of the pavilions come down beginning today. The main site, on an ocean inlet, will be developed over the next two decades as mixed-income housing for 20,000 people, plus offices and retail space, community centers and parks.

Despite the high attendance, provincial officials still face a deficit of $311 million or more. But the cost was considered an investment in future tourism.

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