It is noble and majestic at all times. It has the sound of a thousand hushed organs whose echoes whisper and whisper and whisper at all times.
-Louis Herman Peet, in the chapter on The Mall in his “Trees and Shrubs of Central Park,” 1903.
The "hushed organs" came to life yesterday afternoon as electric guitars and they didn’t whisper and whisper and whisper. The volume was turned up until the echoes bounced off the apartment houses along Fifth Ave. and Central Park West, and the drugstores in the area were quickly sold out of ear plugs and, the next best substitute, cotton balls.
An Elimination Contest
With the blessing of Parks Commissioner Thomas P. F. Hoving, it was presented as an elimination contest from which 66 winners would be picked to participate in “Soundblast 66,” a mammoth commercial go-go to be held in Yankee Stadium June 10.
The affair was supposed to last only from 1:30 to 3:30 P.M., but since only about 40 contestants could be accommodated on the Mall’s stage at one time, it ran an hour late.
Shuts Off Hearing Aid
The so-called music was supplied by the Cowsills, a rock-and-roll combo composed of four brothers aged 9 to 18, and the girls – some of who had brought along their boyfriends – were so carried away by the big beat that they couldn’t wait for their turn onstage and went through their paces in the aisles.
The contest judges were henry Hope Reed Jr., curator of Central Park, who prudently turned off his hearing aid; Peter Aschkenasy, assistant to the executive director of the Parks Department and two WMCA disk jockeys, Scott Mini and Joe O’Brien.
Hoving will be a judge at the Yankee Stadium blast, dropping in on the festivities. He noted that there were about 1,500 persons o hand in addition to the contestants and shouted to newsmen that it as “wonderful to see all these taxpayers enjoying themselves.”
“The whole afternoon is overwhelming,” he added.
Rep. Theodore Kupferman also showed up and made a short welcoming speech, in case there should be any voters present.
Notably absent was Hoving’s father, Walter Hoving, board chairman of Tiffany’s and a long-time vociferous opponent of commercials encroachment on Central Park. It was the elder Hoving who had led the successful fight against A & P heir Huntington Hartford’s proposal for a sidewalk café in the park.