Mad. Sq. 200, a fair to remember

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Despite a brief downpour at the beginning of the history-themed fair, Mad. Sq. 200 in Madison Square Park went off as planned last Saturday in an afternoon celebrating the 200th anniversary of the park’s naming.

The event was scheduled for 3 p.m. and rain hit around 3:10, forcing attendees and participating vendors under the tents until the rain cleared a few minutes later.

“When you have to worry about as many antiques as I do, you always come prepared,” said Denny Daniel, curator and founder of the Museum of Interesting Things. Since rain was in the forecast, Daniel packed some plastic tarps along with the old telephones, phonographs, cameras and wind-up toys he had on display, showcasing some of the entertainment and technology that was popular at the turn of the last two centuries.

The rain did provide some relief from the 90-degree weather last weekend, a rare occurrence this summer, and the skies stayed clear for the rest of the festivities, which included a performance by the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers and a short dance lesson for attendees, as well as law games for kids and adults, croquet games and treats from Brooklyn Farmacy and The Cannibal Beer & Butcher.

A popular stop was where Daniel was showing his collection of antique gadgets and gizmos.

Daniel has been collecting antique items for the last five years and his “museum” includes photographs, toys, early medical inventions, antique literature and old scientific tools. One of the interactive pieces that he brought to the park was a mutoscope, an early motion picture device that works on the same principle as a flipbook, with pictures printed on cards, spun on a Rolodex and seen through a viewfinder. This particular one showed Charlie Chaplin and Felix the Cat, and operated through quarters placed in the slot.

Ashley Hughes, director of programs at the Madison Square Park Conservancy, said that planning for Mad Sq. 200 has been going on since May. However, the event has been in the works longer than that, with ideas being thrown around since January. The next big event at the park will be Mad Sq. Music: The Studio Series of free concerts, beginning on September 13. See T&V’s Around & About listings for details.

Click through to see photos from the event.

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