BY JILL NAGY
November and December will be a busy months for holiday celebrations in Saratoga and Glens Falls. In Saratoga Springs, the Victorian Street Walk will be back in its previous format from 6 to 9 p.m. November 30. Glens Falls has renamed its outdoor holiday market, scheduled for December 1-3, the Adirondack Holiday Festival. Glens Falls also plans a holiday decorating contest open to homeowners, apartment dwellers, and business owners. The Festival of Trees returns to the Saratoga City Center November 20 to December 4. And there are rumors of a holiday parade in South Glens Falls.
This is the 37th year for the Saratoga Springs Victorian Street Walk, an event that has evolved from a street festival largely sponsored by local business owners as “a great way for businesses to welcome people and thank them for their support,” according to Deann Devitt, board president of the Saratoga Springs Business Association, the main organization running the event. Over the years, it has grown to a night of entertainment in downtown businesses and on the streets. During the height of the Covid pandemic, the event was changed from a weekday evening to a full weekend, in order to minimize crowds. This year, it returns to its previous format. Before the pandemic, close to 10,000 people would crowd Broadway for the walk. In between, “It’s been a couple of weird years,” Devitt said. This year, with people still shy of crowds, she expects some 5,000 walkers.
The evening will begin with the lighting of a holiday tree. City employees from the Department of Public Works will bring the tree and set it up. Munter Enterprises, another of the tree sponsors, will lend a lift to get the tree onto its stand. Rena Fine Flowers, a Saratoga Springs florist, was hired to decorate the tree.
Once the tree is lit, “this kicks off the season for Santa.” Devitt reports. He will be in his Santa Cottage to welcome children with their wish lists and letters. Weather permitting, Mrs. Santa will accompany him but, Devitt explained, Mrs. Santa is getting on in years (“aren’t we all?”) and cannot always sit in the cold for long periods of time. An elf or two will fill in, if necessary.
Broadway will be closed to traffic from Ellsworth Jones Plaza to the Washington Street intersection., and much of the entertainment will be at 25 sites out on that street and sidewalks. Many of the entertainers—school choruses, dance school troupes, local bands, the Racing City Chorus, and the like—are volunteers; a few performers are paid. Pamela McCall, an author and publisher, will help mark the 200th anniversary of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” by explaining the history of the poem and reading parts it during the evening. Many businesses will also have entertainers inside and several of them will offer light snacks: cocoa, cookies, doughnuts, candy, popcorn, pasta samples, etc. “We want people to use the restaurants to warm up and have a meal,” so Devitt hopes the freebies will be limited.
The Downtown Business Association, the City of Saratoga Springs, and individual businesses, notably Four Pillar Funding and Adirondack Trust Co. and a city Special Assessment District are sharing the cost of the party and “we still have sponsors coming in.”
No sooner does the Street Walk end, than it is time for the Glens Falls Downtown Collaborative to begin the Adirondack Holiday Festival, a three-day event December 1 -3. A Santa Parade on Friday marks the opening of the festival. Three large tents in the city park at the intersection of Maple, Bridge and Bay Streets will house vendors offering gift items, food and wine, clothing, and craft items. The vendors will be open for business from 3 to 8 p.m. on Friday, 10 to 6 on Saturday, and from 10 to 4 on Sunday. Circle B Ranch in Chestertown will offer horse and wagon rides.