Schenectady County

Fun + friendship + food + fireworks = Niska Day

The Vegas theme for the 32nd edition of Niska Day meant jugglers, acrobats and Elvis impersonators.

Despite wearing oversized sunglasses with fake sideburns hanging from the frames, 9-year-old Duncan Wall of Niskayuna might not have been mistaken for an Elvis Presley fan as he made his way through a jungle gym behind Craig Elementary School on Saturday.

But when he dropped his voice an octave and sang the first two verses of “Love Me Tender,” his passion for The King was obvious. He then sold the routine by adding, “Thank you, thank you very much.”

His father, Matt, said his son is the biggest Elvis fan in the family. And that’s saying something, because Matt Wall and his wife, Mika Hoffman, got engaged at Graceland.

“I think he was born with it,” Wall said.

Duncan’s fandom coincided perfectly with the Vegas theme for the 32nd edition of Niska Day. The theme meant jugglers, acrobats and Elvis impersonators were the highlight of the morning for Duncan.

The day started with a parade at 10 a.m., followed by festivities behind Craig Elementary School, including games, crafts for sale, carnival rides, an open area to roam and a food court. The evening concluded with fireworks.

This was the second time attending Niska Day for Matt Wall and his family, who moved to the town from California last year.

“We had our first Niska Day last year, and we were like, ‘We’re home,’ ” he said. “This is awesome, It’s amazing. We love Niska Day.”

On Saturday, Wall bought a bike at an auction and talked to some contractors, while the rest of his family went on some of the rides.

One of more popular attractions was run by the Niskayuna Fire Department’s District 1, which was letting children put out a fake fire on a playhouse. Volunteer firefighter Louis Solano would hold the hose with the kids as they sprayed it against the small house.

In order for children to handle the hose, it was set to spray at about 50 pounds per square inch, which he said was about one-third the pressure actually used when fighting a fire.

For Solano, the chance to interact with the community in a non-life threatening scenario was a nice change of pace.

“It’s fun,” he said. “It’s one of the good parts of the job, putting a smile on a kid’s face when they get to do what we do.”

He added that the outreach is also a chance for the department, which mixes volunteers and professionals, to attract new members.

There was also a steady line of people willing to pay $1 for six chances to throw a pingpong ball into a glass bowl to win a goldfish. The stand was operated by Boy Scouts of Troop 81.

Scout Eric Weisheit, 14, tried all the jobs throughout the day and had a simple reason for preferring to fill containers with water for goldfish winners.

“It is easy,” he said.

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