View Full Version : Orchid Show at Rockefeller Center

April 13th, 2004, 11:08 PM

April 8, 2004
From Ice to Orchids, in Days

Capping the rink.

This is the colorful but uncomplicated phrase that Rockefeller Center managers use to describe the thoroughly elaborate procedure in which they expect, for the first time, to hoist a gabled white nylon tent over the center's ice rink before Sunday night.

The new $100,000 tent will not enclose skaters, nor even a circus. Instead, it will house a rainbow of 10,000 plants at the 24th Annual International Orchid Show, long a harbinger of springlike weather in Manhattan.

The capping begins tomorrow night, but the rink, and its riotous complement of orchids, won't be ready for its public close-up until Wednesday. The tented exhibition will be the centerpiece of the five-day show, which will offer orchids from more than 60 international exhibitors.

Thomas A. Madden Jr., managing director for Tishman Speyer Properties, owners of Rockefeller Center, said that a search of the center's records had uncovered no previous capping of the rink. But he is not above inaugurating a new tradition: "Just as the lighting of the Christmas tree is an icon of the winter season, the raising of the orchid tent could be a new sign of spring.''

There actually is a connection: the tent will be put up by the same company, Torsilieri Inc. of Far Hills, N.J., that does the Christmas tree rigging. Starting at 6 tomorrow evening, the music will abruptly stop and the ice skating will cease. Ice-freezing compressors will be turned off. And a 150-foot crane will lumber into position at the esplanade before 30 Rockefeller Plaza, right in Christmas tree territory.

The rink's legendary Zamboni-ish ice-polishing machine (actually made by the Olympia Company) will also make its departure, hoisted out by the crane. A crew of 20 will begin the installation, removing 105 18-foot-tall flagpoles lining the top of the rink, to make room for the supports of the steel-and-aluminum trusses that will hold up the 132-foot-by-116-foot tent. Work will continue overnight on Friday, through Saturday and Sunday. The ice won't actually melt until Saturday night, barring arctic weather. Then workers will begin to build the exhibit structures in the rink.

On Sunday, thousands of arriving cattleyas, vandas and phalaenopsis orchids will be secured in the underground garage Dozens of workers will then fill the rink with plants and exhibits - including five 25-foot trees covered with live orchids - on Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday morning, more than 60 judges from the American Orchid Society will award 25 trophies, 52 plaques and 600 ribbons. The show will open to the public from noon to 5 p.m. on Wednesday. It closes Sunday, April 18.

Interest in the exquisite and ephemeral orchid - which counts an estimated 30,000 species and perhaps eight times as many hybrids - has rapidly grown during recent years; only the poinsettia is a more popular house plant. "There are plenty of orchoholics,'' said Dawn Corbett Kaam, the show's coordinator, who maintains a small forest of orchids in the windows of her apartment in the Bronx.

"There are no 12-step programs for us, though,'' she said, "because who wants to stop?"

In the United States, the New York show has the largest attendance, although the Miami Orchid Show has more orchids, according to David Horak, president of the Greater New York Orchid Society, organizer of the event, which has exhibited at Rockefeller Center for the last three years.

In 2001, the last year for the New York show at the Winter Garden of the World Financial Center, the show drew 75,000 people. In 2002, the first year at Rockefeller Center, 150,000 attended, and last year the total was more than 175,000.

This year the show will offer a program of guided orchid-exhibit tours, workshops and lectures, including a slide presentation describing a recently discovered outsize slipper orchid from Peru that has captured the headlines for its rarity, the Phragmipedium kovachii. "It's one of the most visually spectacular orchids ever discovered," said Mr. Horak, who is the curator of the orchid collection at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Not surprising, other institutions at Rockefeller Center are catching orchid fever. The Sea Grill and Rock Center Cafe, the rinkside restaurants, will be offering cocktails ranging from the Caribbean Orchid (rum, cassis lime juice and pineapple juice) to the Lavender Orchid Martini (gin, Chambord and ginger ale).

While visitors may appreciate many of these firsts, they may not be enthusiastic about another: for the first time there will be a $5 admission fee, for those over the age of 13, to the rink exhibition space. (Visitors will continue to have free access to the orchid-vendors' areas in the concourse, where 50,000 to 75,000 orchids will be for sale.)

Explaining the admission fee, Mr. Horak said that although Rockefeller Center has underwritten the cost of such basics as electricity and a phalanx of security guards, other expenses have escalated and "the cost of insurance for the show increased 2,000 percent since Sept. 11.''

A 16-foot-wide, see-through vinyl band on the tent's top will afford skyscraper views at Rockefeller plaza. But that strip of sky will be a far cry from the glass cathedral of the Winter Garden, the atrium where the orchid show previously made its home for 11 years.

At the Winter Garden, the orchid show was transformed from a local convocation to a world event that attracted thousands of foreign tourists. Previously the show had enjoyed modest attendance at places like the New York Coliseum.

Shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, when the Winter Garden was devastated by falling debris, its staff gave information to the orchid society about possible alternative spaces in Lower Manhattan, including building lobbies and the South Street Seaport.

The orchid society sought a large and significant home, but armories and other emergency sites were occupied by rescue workers and the National Guard.

"It was a desperate period for us, and we were worried about our survival," Mr. Horak said. "Without the right space, the show could have collapsed, because the vendors might not have wanted to come in." He referred to orchid producers who gamble in advance on each show, spending thousands of dollars to grow and transport greenhouses full of orchids in their heavy pots for the exhibit and sales areas.

Ultimately, "after looking at every nook and cranny all over the city," Mr. Horak said, Rockefeller Center issued its invitation. Although the Winter Garden was restored in record time after a $50 million renovation, and opened again by Sept. 11, 2002, Mr. Horak said "the fact that our show's volume has doubled has significantly impacted the future of the show,'' adding that now the Winter Garden is not large enough.

There are still bruised feelings about this in Lower Manhattan. But Debra Simon, executive director of the World Financial Center arts and events program, said that "we are sorry for downtown that the orchid show isn't coming back, but I certainly understand the constraints they face." She hopes that a festival celebrating the city of Florence next fall can become the Winter Garden's signature annual event.

Volunteers insist that their heads haven't been turned by wild success at Rockefeller Center. "We are just a garden club, after all,'' said Ms. Kaam, the coordinator.

As for the skating rink, after Sunday, April 18, the space will revert to its habitual summer existence as the home of the Rink Bar and the Summergarden. And in the future, Mr. Madden said, the tent "could open a whole new idea of how we look at the rink, in thinking about other events."

April 13th, 2004, 11:09 PM
April 14 - 18, 2004

Rockefeller Center
Between 49th and 50th Streets and 5th and 6th Avenues

Orchid Show on Rink $5.00
Children under 12 Free
Sales area and lobby displays Free

Wednesday, April 14:
Orchid Show on Rink 12 noon to 5 p.m.
Sales area 12 noon to 7 p.m.
(Sales area will reopen from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.)

Thursday, April 15-Sunday, April 18:
Orchid Show and Sales area:
Thursday - Saturday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
(Sales area will remain open until 6 p.m.)

The Greater New York Orchid Society 212-332-6577

The 24th New York International Orchid Show
April 14 - April 18, 2004

Information provided by the Greater New York Orchid Society

Thousands of vivid and exotic orchids will be on view under a tent floating over the Rockefeller Center Rink when the 24th New York International Orchid Show opens to the public on Wednesday, April 14th from 12 noon to 5:00 pm. Remaining show hours are Thursday - Saturday, April 15th -17th, 9:00 am – 9:00 pm and Sunday, April 18th, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm.

For the first time our show will be staged on the ice rink. Spectacular “orchid” trees covered with live orchid flowers will stand amid beautiful exhibits created by more than 60 orchid specialists from around the world, from Asia to Europe and North and South America. Nearly 10,000 orchids, including rare and unusual species, traditional favorites and the newest hybrids now on the market will fill the tent in large displays. Special Wardian cases will contain delicate miniature orchids. Exquisite artistic floral arrangements will be created by top floral and Ikebana designers including members of the Sogetsu School of Ikebana. Beginning on Thursday, daily tours will be led by orchid experts and complimentary lectures and workshops will be offered.

The New York International Orchid Show is sponsored by REALITIES, a unique new apparel line that was created for the dynamic lifestyle of the modern woman. This world-class show is hosted by Tishman Speyer Properties and is organized by the Greater New York Orchid Society. It is considered the largest American orchid show with its large attendance figures ( 200,000 people in 2003) and second in the world after the Japan Grand Prix International Orchid Festival in Tokyo.

The show’s sponsor, REALITIES offers excellent quality career wear and casual styles at affordable prices for women. The line showcases understated elegance with beautiful fabrics and meticulous attention to detail. It is available at select Bloomingdale’s department stores.

On Wednesday, April 14th, American Orchid Society (AOS) and selected international judges will judge the show. Awards to be presented include 24 major trophy awards, 30 AOS awards, 52 plaques and 600 ribbons. The Grand Champion Trophy and a $4,000 cash prize are awarded for the best orchid in the show and the best exhibit receives a $2,000 cash prize. It is unusual among orchid shows to award cash prizes. The New York show was the first in the United States to have a fragrance competition, now a highlight of the show, with special invited fragrance judges awarding the top orchids in this class.

In the Rockefeller Center Concourse orchids will be on sale from more than 40 vendors including leading international commercial orchid growers offering between 50,000 and 70,000 plants for sale. Orchid books, botanical prints, jewelry, gifts and supplies will be available for sale.
Admission to the Orchid Show on the Rink is $5.00 and free for children under 12. Displays in the Concourse and the Lobby upstairs are free of charge as is the sales area.

The Greater New York Orchid Society orchid show was originally held at the New York Botanical Garden and the World Financial Center’s Winter Garden before moving to Rockefeller Center. Members of the Greater New York Society volunteer their time to create this world class show and share their passion for orchids.
Rockefeller Center is the site of numerous public exhibitions and events. Each day an estimated 250,000 people walk through the Rockefeller Plaza complex, which is home to the most famous Christmas Tree in the world.

For further information call the Greater New York Orchid Society at 212- 332-6577 or visit Greater New York Orchid Society

April 16th, 2004, 12:38 AM
Orchids at the show.


Orchids in the lobby of the GE Building.