Saratoga County

Festivals make for day of pumpkin races, happy faces

Saratoga Springs' annual Fall Festival filled Broadway and nearby streets with families.

Skillfully rolling a pumpkin down a hill might be an inherited talent.

Reinforcing this argument were Anthony Lloyd, 14, and Robyn Lloyd, 11, two siblings from Greenfield who were dressed as the title character from “Where’s Waldo,” with matching white and red striped shirts and hats. The two adroitly navigated their pumpkin Saturday afternoon in Saratoga Springs from the top of Caroline Street on Broadway down to a block of hay barrels at the bottom of the street.

It all started with picking the right pumpkin, explained Anthony.

“The rounder it is, the faster it goes,” he said.

Strategy was also involved in the race down the sharp incline of the street, which was packed with small children in their own costumes as part of the city’s annual Fall Festival. Each race began with an initial heave from the contestants, who then chased after their pumpkins, which were kicked by some and forgotten by others.

In order to keep her pumpkin moving at a good clip, Robyn said, “You’ve got to keep bending down and pushing it with your hands.”

It also takes a bit of courage, as there were few races where a tyke tumbled to the pavement. This was followed by a collective gasp and cringing from witnesses, until a parent rushed to their rescue.

The Lloyd siblings both said they weren’t scared.

Maybe courage is just a trait of youth, because 4-year-old Ryan Daboval also claimed to feel no fear, an attitude that might have been emboldened by his SWAT officer costume.

His mom, Lori Daboval, said they lived in Saratoga Springs and never missed the annual festival, which filled Broadway and nearby streets with families. There were opportunities for face painting and pumpkin carvings all over the downtown area, and even local bars were getting into the kid-friendly spirit, with the Paddock Lounge on Caroline Street trading its beer and spirits for free donuts and cider and candy giveaways.

“We did the pumpkin painting, … which was awesome,” Daboval said.

After the pumpkin rolling, she said they had circled a bunch of activities on their festival brochure, including a visit to a haunted house and dining on s’mores.

“It’s exciting,” she said.

Later Saturday in Ballston Spa, children in costume gathered in Wiswall Park on Low Street, then were led by a band of costumed adults playing marching tunes. They traveled through the main streets of the village and then off through a residential section to the delight of people waiting on their porches.

The most cumbersome costume was a nearly life-size velociraptor setup hoisted on 10-year-old Jack Shea, of Ballston Spa. The costume, which delighted and confused younger children in the parade, continued his tradition of participating in the parade with a dinosaur costume, explained his father, Mike Shea.

“We worked on it together,” Mike Shea said. “There was an air mattress that had a hole in it, there’s two tomato cages and some foam insulation.”

Jack was able to travel more than a mile in the suit, which he estimated to weigh about 15 pounds, but needed a little help navigating turns because of the narrow vision.

After the parade, Mike Shea said they were looking forward to the rest of the 16th annual Falling Leaves Festival, including fireworks and a bonfire.

He added that Jack was planning on wearing the outfit while trick-or-treating Thursday, although there were some logistical concerns.

“He’s a strong kid, but we don’t know how long he can hold up in the suit,” Mike said.

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