With Saratoga 150 events well underway, the first Signature Event of the five-month-long celebration is scheduled for Friday, May 24th, on the grounds of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Gates open at 5:30pm for a myriad of fun and wholesome family entertainment and an old-fashioned picnic contest that awards $1,000 to the winner.
“We feel that it is appropriate to open our signature events with festivities for families – at SPAC, our community’s most famous entertainment venue,” said Saratoga 150 Committee Chairman Charles V. Wait. “The backbone of Saratoga historically has been the best in thoroughbred racing and strong family values engendering a spirit of pride and volunteerism, an appreciation of history and a love for the arts and entertainment. This special Saratoga set of diverse values is what prompted us to begin our five-month celebration in a family atmosphere, at the arts center,” he said.
Plenty of old-fashioned and present-day entertainment will abound, from four different ethnic bands – Irish, Italian, Polish and Latin – to small stage entertainment by various children’s performing groups such as Irish step dancing, singing, orchestral sounds, and ballet.
Shows by Brad Zapp, a memory expert, juggler and circus-act teacher; storytellers; and a wildlife act will be performed throughout the evening. The storytellers will feature Irish folklore, stories about life on a farm, and authentic Mohawk tribe tales by a Native American. The Saratoga YMCA will offer tons of children’s games and activities on the lawn, as well as a bounce house. Picture-taking will be featured by the event’s sponsor, National Grid, and children will take home a photo showing them “up in the air” in a repair bucket. The Music Studio Kids will play instruments on the lawn in demonstration sessions entitled “Orff Chestra”.
Groups of entertainers will stroll the grounds, including clowns and stilt walkers, and strolling Saratogians will provide the flavor of the 1860’s, along with barber shoppers who will provide sounds of the era. Culminating this Memorial Day weekend evening celebration is an official heralding of the fireworks by Charles Wait, from the Saratatoga 150 starting gate, at 9:15 pm. The starting gate, that has been re-designed as a parade and display attraction, is being debuted to the public at this event, how cool is that?!
Picnic contest entrants may register at either of the two entrance gates - Route 50 and the Hall of Springs gates and picnic entries must be signed in by 7:15 pm. A panel of décor, culinary and historical experts will judge, beginning at 7:30 pm. There are a limited number of picnic tables that may be used, on a first-come, first-serve basis. Besides food and beverages, picnic contest entrants are encouraged to bring personal picnic display surfaces, old-fashioned themed décor items, coolers and other fun picnic paraphernalia.
Awards will be announced at 8:45 pm, followed by the ceremonial cutting of a large birthday cake, created by Mazzone Hospitality. The crowd will be led in song by The Music Studio Kids with an enthusiastic rendition of “Happy Birthday Saratoga Racing”. The four bands that are performing at the Gazebo and at the concessions area stage are: The Good Times Band, the Grafton Street Band, Mike Camacho Latin Jazz Quintet, and The Rymanowski Brothers Orchestra. The youth groups performing on the small stage are from the Northeast Ballet Company, headed by founder and artistic director Darlene Myers, the Boland School of Irish Dance, and The Music Studio Kids, led by founder and director Noel Liberty. The barbershop singers are members of the Racing City Chorus. Victorian-clad Saratogians are members of the Victorian Social Club, and volunteer Saratoga 150 Ambassadors in 1860’s costumes are from Saratoga High School’s America Helping America Club.
Admission to Family Night at the Spa will be free for an adult and one child, with a Saratoga 150 medallion (click here to purchase one, I’ve got mine already!). Regular admission is $10 for an adult with one child. Additional children’s tickets are $5. Children’s tickets are for ages four through 12. Kids three and under are admitted free.
Ample parking is available at the Route 50 entrance and The Hall of Springs entrance offers drop-off access. No alcoholic beverages or pets will be allowed on the SPAC grounds. Coolers will be checked to safeguard the no-alcohol rule. The resident concessionaire AraMark will offer a limited snack-food menu.
Find more information about Family Night at the Spa here. Volunteers are needed to work two-and-one-half hour shifts at the entrance gates. Volunteer availabilities and questions about the picnic contest and other event topics may be directed to Events@Saratoga150.com.
Don’t miss this once in a childhood classic family experience, I can’t wait!