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Contact: Darren Boch, 973-523-2630PATERSON, NJ – New Jersey’s newest national park, the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park, welcomed more than 177,000 visitors in 2016. The Great Falls is one of the 77 national parks (of 382 reporting) that set visitation records. According to statistics released this month, the National Park Service (NPS) as a whole received nearly 331 million visits last year, beating last year's record numbers by a breathtaking 23.7 million.
“Word is spreading that the city founded by Hamilton, the biggest star on Broadway, is a destination,” said Darren Boch, superintendent of the park. “Working with our many partners we’ve been expanding our programs and visitor services. And together over the next few years we’ll be spending about $8 million in local, state and federal funds on landscape improvements that will further enhance the visitor experience.”
“We created the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park expecting it could be a shining symbol for the City and an engine for a revitalization of Paterson,” stated U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. “As visitors continue to set new records by visiting the park to experience all Paterson has to offer, they help support the local economy. I look forward to working with our partners to build on our success to enhance the experience for visitors at the Great Falls in the coming years.”
The increasing visitation in Paterson and across the NPS last year was supported by the national ‘Find Your Park’ (Encuentra Tu Parque) marketing campaign launched with the National Park Foundation to celebrate the National Park Service’s Centennial year.
Paterson Great Fall’s Centennial events included “Savor Paterson,” a food tasting festival celebrating the city’s multicultural heritage held on August 25, the day of NPS’ 100thanniversary as an agency. The park also hosted a “Day of Innovation” program for high school entrepreneurs, an Art Showcase and a “Every Kid in a Park” program targeted to Paterson fourth graders. The Centennial events were in addition to the park’s annual Asphalt Art Competition, Native American Heritage Festival, and naturalization ceremony.
The city of Paterson and its partners also added to the park’s visitation with popular events such as the Great Falls Fall Festival, a two-day Motorcycle Run and Bike Show sponsored by the PBA, and the Hinchliffe Stadium Motor Racing Association car exposition.
Hinchliffe Stadium, which was added to the national park boundary in 2015 and will soon undergo the first phase of rehabilitation, may be the catalyst for future sustained visitation.
Paterson Mayor Jose ‘joey’ Torres said, “Today’s data illustrates the breadth and depth the beauty of our National Park has had on the region and further energizes us in our goals to incorporate, in the existing Field House at Hinchliffe Stadium, a three story structure that would permanently house the NJ Hall of Fame, Investor’s, NJ Sports and Negro League Museums as well as a hospitality/suite, which would allow the viewing of the expanse of the park.
“This is only appropriate as we create a destination to honor the great Negro League Baseball Circuit, and especially Paterson’s native son Larry Doby, a Hall of Famer, who broke the color barrier, when he was drafted to the American League in 1947.”
The Hamilton Partnership for Paterson, the park’s Friends group, is working to enhance the educational, social and economic benefits of the park and will soon launch a new version of their popular “Mill Mile” audio tour including the voices of some of the cast of the musical Hamilton, a Super Bowl hero, a star of the movie 'Paterson,' and an inspiring group of Paterson youth. They’re also working with the NPS on a new visitor learning center to be located at the Great Falls, planned by the acclaimed exhibit designers for the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
The NPS has now set visitation records for three years in a row. For more information about visitation, please go to the National Park Service Visitor Use Statistics web page at https://irma.nps.gov/Stats/.