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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane Indians unveil Expo ‘74 uniforms as city plans for more than 90 anniversary events

Otto Klein, senior vice president of Spokane Indians Baseball, left, waits for Matt Santangelo to don his Expo ’74 Indians jersey, which interim City of Spokane Administrator Garrett Jones, Spokane Mayor Lisa Brown, City Council President Betty Wilkerson and Spokane County Commissioner Josh Kerns are wearing during a Tuesday news conference to announce plans for celebrating the 50th anniversary of Expo ’74.  (Dan Pelle/THESPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Soon after graduating from Lewis and Clark High School, Spokane City Council President Betsy Wilkerson got her first job: serving hamburgers and hot dogs at an Expo ’74 food stand.

She worked five days a week in the shadow of the U.S. Pavilion and began to feel a special connection with the community.

It’s the kind of connection she hopes young people of today will gain when participating in Expo 50, this year’s 50th anniversary celebrations of Spokane’s world’s fair.

“The experience was amazing,” Wilkerson said. “I would like that experience for a lot of our young people and for the rest of the community – who’ve never even experienced anything like Expo 50.”

City leaders and event organizers promoted some of their plans for the celebrations at a news conference Tuesday near the Rotary Fountain in Riverfront Park. Two months of celebrations with more than 90 events to mark the 50th anniversary will kick off May 4, the exact anniversary of President Richard Nixon opening the fair. The events will run through closing ceremonies and fireworks on July 4.

On some Saturdays, there will be performances at the Pavilion by local dancers and other performing artists. There also will be a “vendor village” with local artisans, international and other food options, and activities.

Other key events include the Expo Powwow at the Spokane Convention Center over Memorial Day weekend and canoe races on the Spokane River.

More event details are available at

Fourth- and seventh-graders in Spokane Public Schools will visit Riverfront Park in field trips later this month and in early May to learn about the fair.

Expo ’74 in Spokane was the first world’s fair with an environmental theme.

“So we will be celebrating our nearness to nature and the amazing river behind me. We will honor our local tribes and their contributions,” Spokane Mayor Lisa Brown said at the conference. “We’ll listen to local music and celebrate local art, and guests will be able to explore our amazing food, craft beverage scene and visit our hotels.”

Organizers have raised $1.7 million for the festivities, including $500,000 from the city of Spokane, $450,000 from Spokane County and other amounts from businesses and organizations.

The amount is enough to pull off the celebration, though officials are continuing to raise money, said Matt Santangelo, program manager of the Expo ’74 50th Celebration. Memberships in Club ’74, which comes with a commemorative coin, food discounts and other incentives, remain on sale for $74.

Santangelo said the Expo events will be coordinated with other groups that lead events in the spring and summer, including Bloomsday, Spokane Pride, Juneteenth, Hoopfest and the Lilac Festival.

There are also partnerships with organizations like the Spokane Indians baseball team, which unveiled at the news conference a special Expo ‘74 uniform that will be worn by the team on May 4 and at three other games.

Otto Klein, the Indians’ senior vice president, said the team considered celebrating Expo by having players wear uniforms based on the team’s 1974 uniform when the Indians were a Triple A team, one step from the Major Leagues. But the dark reddish-orange material was too ugly to bring back to the field, he said.

“We decided to come up with a special custom uniform,” he said before introducing the team’s mascot, Otto the Spokanasaurus, as well as former team intern Sam Carson, sporting the new uniforms. It features the colors from Expo: light blue, light green and white, as well as the fair’s mobius logo.