SARATOGA SPRINGS — Anyone who’s ever wandered Saratoga Spa State Park and wondered about its history should plan another visit: this time with a docent.
The New York state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has launched its Summer Docent Program, which offers free History Strolls and Springs Tours through the park now until Labor Day.
The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has four docents who give tours on a rotating basis seven days a week. All of the docents were trained by Alli Schweizer, the Saratoga Spa State Park naturalist and environmental educator.
History Strolls leave from outside the park administration building, at 19 Roosevelt Drive, at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and 1:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.
History Strolls are walking tours that cover the history of the Hall of Springs and the Roosevelt Spa area of the park, in addition to general park history, such as the origin of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
Springs Tours leave from the Creekside Classroom in the Geyser Picnic Area. Participants learn about the different mineral springs in the park, including how they came to be. Participants can also sample some of the sparkling waters. Fridays through Sundays, the Springs Tours begin at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. From Monday to Thursday, they leave at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Alane Ball Chinian, regional director of the state Parks Department, said her office “started the program to provide better orientation and visitation” of Spa State Park.
“Everyone has been very happy about the introduction of docents to the park,” said Zachary Hall, a second-year docent who will be a sophomore this fall at the Wanakena Ranger School in St. Lawrence County.
Hall said he became a docent because he loves nature and history and wants to be involved in the parks system as much as possible while going to school to become a park ranger.
In addition to the Docent Program, Spa State Park has added the Creekside Classroom, which opened last month. Classes for children in pre-K through eighth grades, including “stream exploration” and “a taste of history,” are run by Park Naturalist Alli Schweizer and cost $3 per student.
For more information about the Docent Program, or to register for classes, call 518-584-2000.
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