Leave it to Mother Nature to rain on a parade.
Just moments after the 18th annual Turning Point Parade got started, ominous dark clouds rolled over Schuylerville. And then it started to rain — a lot.
“You can’t control mother nature,” lamented Maggie Chiperno, who was fortunate enough to have one of the drier seats underneath the tent shielding the judge’s stand.
Drenched marching bands played on through the deluge, which didn’t seem to bother or diminish the sizable crowd gathered on Main Street. Perhaps that’s because the Turning Point Parade is a source of pride for the residents of the small village situated just a few short miles away from the battleground where the Continental regulars won a crucial victory in the American war for independence.
From mid-September until mid-October in 1777, American soldiers under the command of Gen. Horatio Gates and Gen. Benedict Arnold valiantly fought off attacks from the army under British Gen. John Burgoyne. After the second attack, Burgoyne’s force was crippled and outnumbered, forcing him to capitulate on Oct. 17, 1777 — a surrender that many historians site as the turning point of the Revolutionary War.
“This was the turning point of the revolution right here,” said Schuylerville Mayor John Sherman.
The parade was once scheduled to coincide with the anniversary of the British surrender. Ironically, Sherman said the date was moved to the summer to avoid the unpredictable and often inclement weather of the fall. But the parade is a big draw for the village regardless of the weather.
Sherman said the event helps draws people from around the county in recognition of the important role the area played in American history.
“It brings all the communities together,” he said.
This year’s event also paid homage to the sacrifices of the modern military. The theme “our heroes, our home” was chosen to honor those members of the armed forces who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Col. Richard Goldenberg of the Army National Guard was selected as the parade’s grand marshal. Goldenberg, who now serves as a spokesman for the New York State Division of Military Affairs, was deployed to Iraq in 2005.
Goldenberg moved to the village in 1999 and quickly realized the deep sense of pride the community has in its historical significance. He doubted that anyone in the crowd would have to ask the meaning of the parade.
“They know it and that’s what makes this parade so much fun,” he said. “You have an entire community here that recognizes and appreciates its roots.”
Goldenberg, who wasn’t originally from Schuylerville, didn’t realize how richly steeped the area is in history until meeting his wife, Kelly, a native of the village. When he did a little research on it, he was taken aback by the events that transpired there more than two centuries ago.
“This small part of New York had such a large impact on how the rest of the country developed,” he said.
The rain pummeled the parade nearly to its end. But with spirits high, nobody seemed to mind.
“It won’t dampen their spirits,” said Chiperno, who once served on the parade’s committee. “They’re all devoted to it.”