Saratoga Springs

Cold fails to freeze out enthusiasm of First Night revelers

'Just because it’s cold it doesn’t mean you can’t do fun things'
The start of the 20th annual First Night Saratoga 5K at Skidmore College on Sunday.
The start of the 20th annual First Night Saratoga 5K at Skidmore College on Sunday.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

SARATOGA SPRINGS — It may have only been 5 degrees on Sunday, but the cold weather didn’t stop people from enjoying First Night activities.

Why? Because it’s New York, many of them said. They expect it to be this cold heading into the new year.

Many people said they knew they had to dress warmly. Others said they made sure to temper their expectations because of the cold weather.

“We may be heading back [home] around 6:30,” said Amy Robson of Connecticut.

Robson was there with her husband, Mark Robson, and their kids Burke, 10, and Carter, 7. 

This was the first year for the family attending First Night, and they didn’t want anything to ruin it. So, they bundled up in their fleece-lined Carhartt jackets and set out for the evening.

Mark Robson said they heard from several people how great the activities were for kids. They also made sure to stay inside for most of the day so they could enjoy themselves in the evening.

“We’ve been looking forward to [First Night],” Mark Robson said. “We’re not going to let the weather get in our way.”

One family recently moved to Saratoga from Atlanta and it was also their first time attending First Night. John VanMarkwyk and his son, 8-year-old Niko, were at the Lake Avenue Elementary School for the kids’ activities. He said once they heard it was only going to be in the single digits, there was no hesitancy about going out for First Night.

“Just because it’s cold it doesn’t mean you can’t do fun things,” said John VanMarkwyk.

There was one event that was impacted by the cold. 

The First Night 5K at the Skidmore College Athletic Complex did have 1,200 runners signed up for the race. However, only 654 runners were at the starting line when the race started at 5:30 p.m., according to race officials.

There were other events, though, that helped people get warm. Kevin Richards, a DJ with 100.9 FM The Cat, was hosting line dancing lessons at the New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center. He said he wasn’t concerned about the lack of people coming out because of the cold.

“It’s a good way for people to warm up,” Richards said of line dancing, adding the event was also indoors.

Not going to First Night also wasn’t an option for Jackie Citriniti of Niskayuna. She has come to the event for past two decades and has experienced snow, rain and even warm weather.

“There’s a lot of exciting energy,” Citriniti said. “Everyone is friendly.”

Citriniti was at the museum to learn line dancing with her friend Julie Williamson of Whitesboro. While Citriniti was all ready for the night’s activities, when Williamson heard it was going to be so cold, she had some second thoughts. However, she made sure to put on a bunch of warm clothes and headed out to celebrate the new year.

“I’m excited,” Williamson said. “I want to push through and enjoy the night.”

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