50th anniversary celebration ends at top of Space Needle

SEATTLE - A summer-long celebration of Seattle's most famous icon came to an end Sunday, marking the 50th anniversary of the closing of the 1962 World's Fair in Seattle.

There were festivities all around Seattle Center. And thousands of people made their way to the observation deck of the Space Needle - not just because of the view, but because of the price.

Tickets for the 47-second ride to go the top, 520 feet up, were just $1.

The ultra-low price confused some tourists. But once they realized it was for real, everyone gave it the thumbs-up.

"We picked the right day to come all the way from Tuscon, Ariz.," said one visitor.

Others were a little stunned by the view from the top.

"It was a little scary when he told us how high were up," said visitor Jessica Tuggey.

For Barbara Bader of Seattle, the trip to the top of the Needle was a walk down memory lane.

"It's very nostalgic," she said. "I'll never forget the way it looked - the panoramic view. The first impression was indescribable."

It was 50 years ago that she worked her first day as a waitress at the Space Needle restaurant.

"We worked 10-hour shifts during the fair," says Bader.

She served up food along with the view for 13 years and fondly remembers the Columbus Day storm in 1962, when the wind became an unwelcome guest.

"I know personally I dropped a prime rib - lost balance a little bit," she says.

More than 1.4 million visitors now make their way to the Space Needle every year.

And on Sunday's closing day celebration, many people said they never realized what an icon it would become when it was built 50 years ago.

"Everyone takes it as its own, and that's a wonderful thing for all of us here in the city," says Space Needle spokesperson Mary Bacarella.