Saratoga Springs

First Night: Dinosaurs, alpacas and cotton candy

Just a few of the things to see and do at the annual event
Left: Dinoman! shows; top right: Alpacas from Breezy Hill Farm; above right: Flavored cotton candy for sale.
Left: Dinoman! shows; top right: Alpacas from Breezy Hill Farm; above right: Flavored cotton candy for sale.

Dinosaur alert at Lake Avenue School!

The dinosaurs are coming to town. But don’t be afraid. These thunder lizards tread lightly. Their big bodies are soft and colorful. And they are traveling to Saratoga Springs from central Vermont, not Jurassic Park.

“We’ll have three of them in Saratoga: a Stegosaurus, a T-Rex and a giant Sauropod,” says Bob Lisaius.
During First Night Saratoga, Lisaius will present two Dinoman! shows at 6 and 8 at Lake Avenue School.
“It’s a lot of fun for everybody but there is science throughout the show,” Lisaius says

Posing as a paleontologist in a pith helmet and khaki shorts, Lisaius leads the audience on a fact-filled exploration of dinosaurs that’s sprinkled with magic tricks and audience participation.

At the end of the show, the three life-sized inflatable animals magically appear.

“They are big, lovable fun-loving things,” says Lisaius.

The dinosaurs inflate one at a time and it takes them a minute and a half to inflate.

“So they get to see it right in front of them. Most kids will not be frightened at all. It’s not quick, it’s not startling.”

Lisaius, who lives in Warren, Vermont, owns seven inflatable reptiles made by George York, a Maine artist who recently created stage sets with inflatable parrots and palm trees for musician Jimmy Buffett.
The dinosaurs that are coming to Saratoga are “the right size for their age,” Lisaius says.

“The Sauropod is only eight years old. But it is about 30 feet long and it’s 15 feet up in the air. The T-Rex is 12 feet tall . . . a teen-ager. And the Stegosaurus is an adult, and he’s about 18 feet long and 11 feet high.”

While this is the first time that Lisaius is performing in Saratoga Springs, he’s no stranger to First Night.
Dinoman! was on Boston’s First Night schedule for 17 years, until the city stopped doing First Night event. The Dinoman! Science Series has been performed at schools, museums and other venues across the United States and in Canada.

Ask Lisaius why children love dinosaurs and he’ll give you a long answer.

“After doing this forever, I’ve come to a couple of conclusions. Number one, dinosaurs aren’t here anymore. They are giant scary animals that the kids know don’t exist so it’s safe for them to explore them, to think about them. . . . Of all sciences, it’s right there in front of you. And a four-year-old can understand the science and he can learn the names and he can start picking up little connections to other sciences. . . . Dinosaurs are a wonderful key to the world of science.”

Lisaius, who is 58, first got excited about dinosaurs when he was a boy growing up in New Jersey.
“There were dinosaur footprints in Roseland, New Jersey, right next to my town. Once I saw those, I was hooked on dinosaurs and I’ve been hooked on them ever since.”

These hairy First Nighters can handle the cold

From Saratoga Springs City Center to St. Peter’s Church, music is in the air during First Night.
Then there’s that unusual humming sound.

Avalanche and Butch Cassidy, two male alpacas from Breezy Hill Ranch in Washington County will be vocalizing in the parking lot of NBT bank.
“They can hum when they are content, they can hum when they are nervous,” says David Proulx, who owns the 91-acre alpaca farm with his wife Lisa.

Sometimes they make the sound when they are restless and ready to go back to the farm.
“It’s almost like complaining,” he says.

This is the seventh year that alpacas have appeared at First Night.

“We have people that come back every year and tell us that they look forward to it. Some people just come and look at them. I’m only 10 feet off the sidewalk, so anybody walking down the sidewalk will be able to see them.”

People are allowed to pet them, but only on the neck or back. They don’t like it if you touch their heads.
“A lot of people who have never felt one before are amazed how soft their fiber is. It’s one of the finest fibers in the world,” Proulx says.

Avalanche is white, stands 5 foot 8 inches tall and weighs 160 pounds. Butch Cassidy, his little brother, is brown, two inches shorter and 20 pounds lighter.

“They are both very friendly,” says Proulx. “Generally they like people. They all have different personalities. I pick the ones that I think will do the best with the public.”

People often think they are llamas and ask him about the differences between the two animals.

“Llamas can get bigger, up to 450 pounds, where alpacas typically average out to around 175, 180,” he says. “The fiber on the alpacas is much more luxurious and soft. The ears and the tail are different. But their insides are completely the same. They are actually related to camels.”

The Proulxs care for 27 alpacas and three llamas and raise them for their fiber.

On First Night, in a tent next to the animals’ pen, he’ll be selling hats, scarves, gloves and mittens made of alpaca hair.

“It gets kind of cold normally. People are out and about and they don’t have the right attire,” Proulx says.
Avalanche and Butch Cassidy won’t be bothered by chilly weather, as alpacas are native to the Andes mountains in South America.

“If it gets too cold for them, they’ll lay down. They’ll just fold their legs underneath their body. That’s how they keep warm.”

Cotton candy: Maple, pumpkin spice & more

The melt-in-your-mouth fluffy clouds of sweet stuff at First Night Saratoga won’t exactly be your grandmother’s cotton candy.

“We’re going to have the classic pink vanilla and blue raspberry; winter mint, pumpkin spice and we always have real Vermont maple,” says Sarah Perrin, owner of Green Mountain Concessions.

Perrin, who grew up in the Montgomery County village of Fonda and now lives in Bennington, Vermont, says her vendor’s cart and two spinning machines will be set up outdoors in front of Saratoga Arts, at 320 Broadway.

Pink vanilla and blue raspberry, the classic flavors, are the most popular, she says. Real maple, from Vermont trees, is another favorite.

“People like the maple because it’s a little more unusual and they can’t get it everywhere. We get the sugar from people that we know. They make the sugar, they boil it down from syrup. Whenever we run out, we call them up and they make some more for us.”

Bacon cotton candy?

Yep, she’s made it. And bubblegum and chocolate, too.

“They are all spun the same way. Sometimes the maple might have a piece of maple sugar in it.”

Also called candy floss, spider webs and candy cobwebs, cotton candy is made by heating and liquefying sugar, then spinning it out through tiny holes in a big bowl, where it re-solidifies in thin, airy strands.
People enjoy watching her spin the sugar.

“The kids love it especially,” Perrin says.

For parents and grandparents, the candy-making magic reminds them of the fairs and circuses of their childhood.

“It’s not so much the cotton candy itself, it’s an experience thing. It’s nostalgia,” she says.

First Night Saratoga 2017
WHEN: 6 p.m. to midnight Saturday

WHAT: 70 acts — music, dance, comedy, theater and performing artists — for children and adults

WHERE: 30 venues in downtown Saratoga Springs

HOW MUCH: $20 for an admission button. Pay for buttons online and pick them up on Saturday at Saratoga Arts, 320 Broadway; Saratoga Springs City Center, 522 Broadway; or from 6 to 9 p.m. at Lake Avenue School, 126 Lake Ave. Buttons can also be purchased at those sites without going online.

TRANSPORTATION: 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. CDTA shuttle service to and from six downtown sites with parking at Skidmore College and Wilton Mall. For button-wearers only.

FIREWORKS: Fireworks will light up the sky at midnight in Congress Park

MORE INFO: for link to buy button. Also map and complete schedule,  584-4132



Categories: Entertainment

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