Kissena Corridor Park
Captain Mario Fajardo Park
"I'm proud to serve this country that has given me, an immigrant, so much opportunity. I have no regrets. I would do it all over again."
- Captain Mario Fajardo (1961-1991) in his last letter home.
Captain Mario Fajardo emigrated from Ecuador to Flushing, Queens, with the rest of his family when he was 12 years old. He attended John Bowne High School, and in 1984, graduated from the Citadel, a military college in Charleston, South Carolina, with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. He entered the military that summer. During his service, he was stationed in Korea, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Honduras. On August 23, 1990, he was sent to the Persian Gulf as a member of the 20th Engineer Battalion of the 82nd Airborne Unit. He earned several awards and citations during his tour of duty, including the Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. On February 26, 1991, shortly before the war ended, Fajardo was commanding 100 men in an operation to remove unexploded American land mines from an airfield in Iraq. One of the mines exploded, killing Fajardo and six of his men.
In addition to this playground, Captain Fajardo is remembered on the Gulf War Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., where his name is inscribed on Row 11, Block 2, and on the monument at Major McCarthy Triangle at Seventh Avenue, Charles Street, and Waverly Place in Manhattan.
Captain Mario Fajardo Park is part of the larger Kissena Corridor Park, which is a series of interconnected open spaces. Kissena Corridor Park West, the greenway linking Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and Kissena Park, is further connected to Cunningham Park through Kissena Corridor East. These linked greenspaces were part of an effort by Parks Commissioner Robert Moses (1888-1981) to develop an "emerald necklace" in the growing borough of Queens. "Kissena," is said to mean "it is cold" in the Native American Chippewa language.
This park was previously named Booth Memorial Playground, for the adjacent street, before the name was changed at a renaming ceremony on October 6, 1992. The park has baseball diamonds, a soccer field with concrete bleachers, and an additional field that can be used for a variety of activities. Some of the baseball fields were constructed by the Queensboro Hill Association in 1977 for little league games. The park also includes a playground on Kissena Boulevard and Booth Memorial Avenue, near the pond. The playground offers two small basketball courts, two handball courts, play equipment with safety surfacing, and swings for older children as well as toddler swings, two checkerboards, and a comfort station. The playground is bordered by London plane trees (Platanus x acerifolia), and provides bicycle parking.
The city purchased most of the land for Kissena Corridor West by condemnation between 1944 and 1947. Some additional land was added by the Department of Sanitation's landfill program, which filled in marshland. Parks then landscaped this new addition and built a bicycle path, walkways, and ball fields.
Directions to Kissena Corridor Park
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