Ballston Spa

Winter fun fest brings thrills for Ballston Spa kids

Snow sledding an annual favorite
Sledders enjoy the hill that was built on Bath Street during the 22nd annual Ballston Spa Winter Fun Festival.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Sledders enjoy the hill that was built on Bath Street during the 22nd annual Ballston Spa Winter Fun Festival.

Ballston Spa held its 22nd annual Winter Fun Festival on Saturday, and as usual, shut down Bath Street between West High Street and Washington Street for a giant sledding hill. 

Mayor John Romano said the village’s Department of Public Works builds the hill and ramp at the top of Bath Street from snow that’s been saved and stored up over the winter. The village is assisted by other DPW crews from Ballston, Milton and Saratoga County. 

“Only two years we’ve had to cancel it,” said Romano. “One was because there was not enough snow and the other there was too much snow.” 

Kids lugged their sleds up a massive mound of snow at the top of Bath Street, where a local firefighter pushed them down the hill in well-spaced intervals. A mogul near the top of the mound provided a little air for an early thrill, and several sledders had trouble going in a straight line as they caromed from side to side, laughing all the way. 

Romano said events like the winter festival are what helps make Ballston Spa more than a community that you drive through on your way to somewhere else. 

“I think it helps to build that spirit and sense of community, and it speaks volumes to our dedication to make our village a better place to live,” he said. “This year the weather was ideal. It was cold enough where the hill stayed solid and the temperature was good, not too hot and not too cold.”

After the sledding ended at 5 p.m., DPW crews came back in to remove all the snow and reopen the street.

Ballston Spa resident Emily Hill brought her two young kids to the festival, and anticipated having a tough time getting her son away from the sledding hill when it closed. 

“My 8-year-old, I don’t think we’re going to be able to tear him away,” said Hill. “This is such a fun, small town event.” 

Hill, who grew up in Saratoga Springs, said she enjoys the festival because it gives “a sense of community and being able to see your neighbors out and about in town.” 

The second component of the festival takes place at the Elks Lodge on Hamilton Street, where after sledding residents gather for food, dance, face painting, contests and other activities.

Organizer Shelly Bessey has been putting the event at the Elks Lodge together for the last four years, and said she got involved to help provide a fun time for the village’s kids.

“If they can see and experience kindness that’s what they’re going to grow up with,” said Bessey, surveying the main room at the Elks Lodge where kids of all ages were zipping to and fro. “They’re all playing together and there’s no separation or division with age.” 

The event featured a DJ, face painting and balloon animals, dance contests, an indoor snowball fight, pizza and many other activities.

“I always say I’m a big kid, and this is the best part of my day here,” she said. “It shows that we are a community and we’re all about the kids having fun.”

Chris Cipriano has lived in Ballston Spa for nine years but it was his first time bringing his family to the winter festival.

“This is awesome, it’s more than I had expected it to be,” said Cipriano, who came with his wife and two children, ages 6 and 4. “I didn’t realize there would be so many activities set up.” He added that he’ll definitely be returning next year. 

“I think the fact that you have such a diverse group of kids all in one place is great,” said Cipriano. “It’s nice to see kids interact that maybe normally wouldn’t, it’s a good bonding experience.” 

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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