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Empire State Building to don Mets colors

Legends Wilson, Smith take part in Friday afternoon's official lighting ceremony

NEW YORK -- The historic Empire State Building will glow in Mets blue and orange on Friday night to mark the start of Major League Baseball's All-Star Week in New York City.

Mets legend Mookie Wilson and Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith took part in the official lighting ceremony on Friday afternoon, kicking off a weekend full of All-Star events leading up to Monday's Chevrolet Home Run Derby and Tuesday's 84th Midsummer Classic at Citi Field.

"Major League Baseball couldn't be more pleased to have an iconic event like All-Star Week be honored by an iconic building like the Empire State Building, which will be lit in the Mets blue and orange tonight," said Tim Brosnan, Major League Baseball's executive vice president of business.

For Wilson, who played nearly 10 seasons with the Mets from 1980-89, the Empire State Building was the perfect location to commemorate the start of All-Star festivities in a city he holds in such high regard.

"We're here at one of the most historic buildings in the world, and it's a symbol of the greatness of New York," Wilson said. "I think we're all going to stand for what this buildings stands for, as the All-Star Game is also going to represent the greatest ballplayers in the world."

Few players have as much All-Star experience as Smith, who played in 15 Midsummer Classics during his 19-year career, but the Hall of Famer still enjoys taking part in the annual festivities. The atmosphere of New York City, Smith said, will only add to the excitement surrounding this year's events.

"I was very fortunate that I had the chance to play in 15 of these wonderful All-Star games. It creates so much excitement for the city," Smith said. "This being the greatest city in the world, I'm honored to be here and I'm looking forward to this week."

Following a ceremony in the building's lobby to demonstrate lighting the tower's lights blue and orange on a replica model of the Empire State Building, Wilson and Smith -- along with Mets mascot Mr. Met -- traveled to the historic 86th floor observatory.

"It's unbelievable," Wilson said. "We're on a very historic building. We're here in New York, a city that's well known across the world, and here we are hosting one of the greatest sports in the world, which is Major League Baseball."

Friday's ceremony served as the first in a series of events and celebrations that will take place throughout All-Star Week. A number of other events are scheduled in an attempt to raise money and awareness for various charities, as well as ongoing Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

Among the week's other events are the MLB All-Star 5K & Fun Run on Saturday in Brooklyn's Prospect Park, multiple Make-A-Wish Foundation events, ceremonies at New York-area Boys & Girls Clubs and a concert headlined by Mariah Carey set to take place Saturday night in Central Park. Multiple other activities and events will take place throughout the weekend at T-Mobile All-Star FanFest.

"To show you how far baseball has come and evolved, the All-Star Game having once been a one-day event is now a week[-long] event where we entertain baseball fans and families around the world," Wilson said. "This year is no different. … Baseball is now more than just an All-Star Game, it's an All-Star event. And I'm pleased to be part of it."

Paul Casella is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella.