SARATOGA SPRINGS – TogaPalooza started out as a reunion and turned into a mini music festival and a celebration of life.
Slated for Sunday at the Columbia Pavilion in Saratoga Spa State Park, it will include performances by Rattail Jimmy, King Kuel, Just Bruce and Gratefully Yours.
The idea was brought about by co-organizer Christopher Zielinski, a Saratoga native who in recent years has experienced the loss of about a dozen friends and fellow alumni of Saratoga Springs High School.
“I just had friends who seem to be dying way too young and I always end up seeing people at funerals,” Zielinski said. “I was talking to some friends, I was like, ‘Man, we really should do something. We’ve lost so many people. Let’s do a celebration of life/reunion instead of getting together always in sorrow,” Zielinski said.
The 1983 graduate reached out to people from his class and others on Facebook about hosting an event in Spa City. Then, he started reaching out to some bands, many of which had ties to the area and things began to snowball. Another friend offered to help make t-shirts for the event, which his brother Ted is co-organizing.
Zielinski expects around 300 people to come out on Sunday for a day filled with bands, beer and food.
The music will be a mix of Grateful Dead covers (brought by Gratefully Yours), and rock classics from King Kuel. The latter is based in Connecticut, but lead guitarist/vocalist William (Billy) Yager is a Saratoga Springs native.
TogaPalooza is slated to run from noon to dusk. Admission is $30.
The idea isn’t necessarily to have TogaPalooza be an annual event; it’s just a reason to get together and connect.
“Over the years you really lose [touch with] really wonderful people that you know. You have kids, you get caught up in your career, you get caught up in life . . . but you still have that core. There’s something about people you grew up with that you just never lose. You have that camaraderie, that love, that friendship that never goes away,” Zielinski said. “I can’t tell you the [number of] people who have come out of this that I haven’t talked to in years, how excited they are to come and do this because a lot of us haven’t seen each other since high school.”
He encourages others to host similar reunion events and stay connected with those they grew up with.
“Go have an event. Just get started,” Zielinski said.