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Misting Inaction: Cooling Jets at Flushing Meadows Park Have Been Useless All Summer

Opened less than three years ago, the ‘mist garden’ has been closed for months by a leak.

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Where’s the mist?

Haidee Chu/THE CITY

Just three years after the city spent millions of dollars to install a “mist garden” at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the cooling jets will offer zero relief during the heat wave because they have been out of commission all summer.

The city parks department unveiled the mist sprayers in 2020 as part of a $6.8 million makeover of the Fountain of the Fairs, a symbol of the 1964 World’s Fair that leads to the iconic Unisphere. But the cooling jets have been idle for months due to a water main leak, the Department of Parks and Recreation confirmed to THE CITY — and they are likely to remain sidelined this week as temperatures soar north of 90 degrees.

“A little mist sounds nice right about now,” said Monica Cortero, a visitor from Miami, on Tuesday as she rested on the ledge of the Unisphere, whose reflecting pool has been drained and whose fountain is also out of order.

Parks spokesperson Meghan Lalor said the leak was spotted in the spring, but she did not specify when the department expects the cooling site will be back in working order. Like much of the city, a heat wave in neighboring Corona, Jackson Heights and Flushing is more intense than in a non-urban area due to the “heat island effect.”

After coming from Yonkers to play in the mist garden, the children of the Jaigua and Peredes families had to find shade instead, July 25, 2023.

Haidee Chu/THE CITY

“We are actively working on repairs to the main water line that feeds the misting garden and hope to have it back up and running soon,” Lalor told THE CITY. “Parks staff work hard to keep approximately 800 spray showers around the city running all summer, which provide cooling relief and fun to millions of people each year.”

The foggy water feature was billed as a “cooling cloud” following the 2020 transformation of the Fountain of the Fairs, which suffered extensive damage during Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

William Arevalo, who operates an ice cream truck next to the Unisphere, said parents, children and tourists often approach him to inquire about the missing mist.

“They ask for it a lot, a lot — like every day,” Arevalo told THE CITY. “So many kids come for it, and I feel bad because they come dressed in water clothing and water shoes, and the parents are like, ‘Really?’”

Woodside resident Galindo Castro, who was stopping for ice cream, said he had come to the park just so his 6-year-old grandson could play in the cooling mist.

“I’m waiting for the water, but I don’t see nothing,” Castro said. “Everybody come to play in the water…but it’s no good.”

Across the promenade from the ice cream truck, 14-year-old Jhossue Jaigua and his five siblings and cousins rested in the shade, with some of them sipping on lukewarm Capri-Sun packets. Extra clothing they had packed in hopes of getting wet in the mist garden instead stayed dry in bags.

The family had traveled to Queens from Yonkers in hopes of playing in the mist garden on an 85-degree day.

What the mist garden should look like.

Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

“I feel like I could hear the echoes of the people who used to run around,” Jhossue said, recalling memories of the mist garden from last year. “A lot of kids were running around — you can basically hear like a school lunchroom, but all in one place.”

Ten-year-old Guido Jaigua mimicked how he used to play at the mist garden, sneaking between his siblings and cousins while trying to surprise them.

“I would just run through the water — act like I’m just a little sneaky guy,” he said.

Asked about what they were going to do in the absence of a functional mist garden, the kids blurted out a stream of answers — “sleep,” “walk around the park,” “contemplate life.”

And finally, one replied, “Turn on the AC and go home.”

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