Local growers have planted a colorful
variety of flowers that will be harvested just
before the Floral Fete Promenade, planned
as part of Saratoga 150, the anniversary
of Saratoga Race Course that is going on
through Labor Day weekend, marked by
numerous events throughout the county.
The Floral Fete Promenade is a glamorous
parade down Broadway, scheduled for
7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2.
With festooned carriages readied, and
dignitaries aboard, the Floral Fete Promenade
will step off from the corner of the
Route 50/Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney
Highway, down Broadway.
It will be led by
Saratoga’s Queen, herself, Marylou Whitney,
accompanied by her husband John
Hendrickson. The couple are the honorary
chairpersons of the event, as well as the
Saratoga 150, which is behind the entire
series of events through the spring and
The carriages will be escorted by the official Saratoga 150 parade vehicle — a re-decorated, red and white, four-stall, starting gate carrying some of New York’s most famous jockeys. The other carriages will showcase New york-grown flowers of various colors and varieties. The Saratoga Casino and Raceway entry will complete this horse-drawn division.
The Saratoga Auto Museum is gathering more than a dozen antique vehicles, representing various eras, to follow the carriages. Included with the auto line-up is a 1901 Buick that is a replica of a vehicle owned by William C. Whitney – currently owned by Whitney and Hendrickson. Floats decorated with flowers grown by the New york Flower Power Association will follow.
The parade is a mini-replication of the old-fashioned event that took place in Saratoga in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Spearheaded by Whitney, who initially chose the Floral Fete for her annual racing season ball theme in 1983, the Saratoga 150 Floral Fete all-volunteer committee is made up of area garden club members, fresh flower growers, floral designers, and special events experts.
Whitney and her husband were leaders in developing ideas for Saratoga 150 signature events, as they envisioned “the best birthday celebration Saratoga had ever seen.” The couple wanted to make sure that there was an historical to of the celebration and that all Saratogians and visitors could attend a fun Birthday party.
So, on the eve of the anniversary, which is also the eve of the Whitney Handicap race (when the Whitney family traditionally held a ball at the Canfield Casino), they decided to host the Floral Fete and an ice cream social. Whitney and Hendrickson are underwriting all of the non-donated expenses of the Aug. 2 events, as well as several other Saratoga 150 projects. Saratoga’s history and family life will be represented by a contingent of men, women and children who will decorate their own non-motorized “vehicle of choice”, ranging from bicycles, children’s wagons and baby carriages to a category entitled “nonmotorized contraptions on wheels”. All will be Saratoga County residents, and entries will be limited to 100.
The self-decorated rolling “vehicles” must be decorated with fresh flowers and greenery. This category joins the horsedrawn entries and vintage cars at Walton Street and continues with the other promenade entries south on Broadway to Congress Park. They will be accompanied by Skip Parson’s Riverboat Jazz Band.
Entry into this division of the promenade will be on a first-come, first-serve basis, through an online application/registration process at www.saratoga150.com. Entrants will apply in one of four categories. Part of the application process is to submit, in writing, a full description of how their floral vehicle will be decorated, including details on the greenery and types of fresh flowers that will be used. All of the participants will receive a special Floral Fete commemorative keepsake that is not available elsewhere.
The bicycles, wagons, baby carriages and wheeled contraptions will be judged for prizes.
Most of the carriages will remain in Congress Park for public viewing and photos during the ice cream social, that begins immediately following the promenade will feature hand-dipped Stewart’s ice cream.
A huge birthday cake by Mazzone Hospitality will be cut as the crowd sings “Happy Birthday.” Small stage entertainment and strolling entertainers will be scattered in the park.
Information about the events can be found at the Saratoga 150 website, www.saratoga150.com. The application for entry into the self-decorated division is also on the web site. Questions or comments may be directed to FloralFete@saratoga150.com.