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The Canavan Collection - HemisFair ‘68 and a Hippity Hop Ball (1968)

Pam Canavan

Silent | 1968

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  •  Aerial view of parked cars outside HemisFair '68 
  •  Aerial view of the San Antonio Monorail. The attraction left one person dead and 48 injured during the 1968 fair. Investigators determined the derailment as a result of two loaded cars bumping into each other on a curve, in turn causing an 11-car derailment. The victim was Emilee Schmidt, a 65-year old woman from Missouri, who died after being pinned down by one of the carts.  
  •  The San Antonio River 
  •  Tower of the Americas, designed by architect O’Neil Ford and built as the theme structure for the 1968 World’s Fair. It was the tallest observation tower in the United states until 1996. 
  •  Members of the Holt family bounce around the house with a Hippity Hop Ball 
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This 1968 home movie begins in San Antonio during Hemisfair ‘68. The World’s Fair celebrated the formation of the city, using the theme “The Confluence of Civilizations of the Americas.” The festival gathered numerous international, corporate, and local pavilions and presented the brand-new Tower of the Americas. This film includes aerial views of the fairgrounds from atop the observation tower, as well as images of the San Antonio Monorail. The second half of the home movie takes place in a house, where members of the Holt family, old and young, take turns on a Hippity Hop Ball.
The 1968 Hemisfair was a World’s Fair held in San Antonio to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the city’s founding. It was the first World’s Fair to be held in the southwest, and its theme was “Confluence of Civilizations in the Americas.” From April 6th to October 6th, 1968, the Hemisfair welcomed over 6 million visitors. Famous attendees included Bob Hope, Louis Armstrong, Princess Grace of Monaco, President Johnson and his family, and Texas Governor John Connally. There were many attractions including exhibits, a monorail, a lagoon, and a variety of performances. Perhaps the most controversial was a show called the “Flying Indians of Papantla,” during which four men tied to ropes revolved down a 114-foot pole. The complaints stemmed from a mock sacrifice at the beginning of the show, which involved a chicken and a topless woman. This was swiftly edited out of the show. 
The popular River Walk was extended in order to meet the site of the fair, and many new buildings were constructed in the downtown area to accommodate exhibitions from over thirty countries and fifteen organizations. Some of these buildings remain, most notably the Tower of the Americas, which was the main symbol of the fair. The area is now known as HemisFair Park.