Every time 6-year-old Eleanor McNamara threw her small and unusually round pumpkin down Caroline Street on Saturday morning, she transformed into the runaway bride.
Dressed in a bride costume inspired by her soon-to-be-married teacher and purchased by her mom, Eleanor was one of the more proficient rollers of pumpkins down a city block, in one of the events featured in the 11th annual Saratoga Downtown Business Association Fall Festival.
Events included pumpkin painting, a parade down Broadway in the afternoon and trick-or-treating opportunities at local businesses.
The main attraction of the morning was the pumpkin rolling, which took place on a section of Caroline Street normally reserved for late night bar rambles. About a dozen children sporting Halloween costumes, including familiar comic book heroes, princesses, emergency responders and a jedi, would line up for each heat at the top of the street, where it met Broadway. At “go” the competitors would roll their pumpkin and chase it down the short block, sometimes violating the rules and kicking it along.
Eleanor’s style of tossing the pumpkin the first few feet of its journey gave her a bit of a lead, but she was also forced to hold up the bottom of her long dress as she ran after her pumpkin. A tireless champion, she repeatedly trekked back up the hill for race after race, as her dad made the same trek on the sidewalk.
Later in the day, Broadway looked like the most crowded trick-or-treating neighborhood ever. Hundreds of children were in their Halloween outfits getting a jump start on Wednesday’s hunt.
The event made 29-year-old Frank Sicari of Saratoga Springs lament the fact that he didn’t have the same opportunity when it was still socially acceptable for him to collect candy. “I’m very upset I didn’t have this when I was a kid,” he joked.
Walking downtown with friends, Sicari admired some of the unique costumes, including a small child dressed as a cuddly shark. His favorite outfit was a homemade robot, essentially a silver-painted cardboard box that a kid wore. The part of the costume that stood out for him were the battery powered lights.
Sicari even got to live some of his lost youth, grabbing a piece of candy from a store where he had made a purchase.
There was live music throughout the day on Broadway, as well as street performers and face painting. The culmination of the day was the parade of costumed children, who marched down the sidewalk on Broadway with their bags of candy and parents in tow. The parade was led by Piglet from Winnie the Pooh and the STAR 101.3 bear, with a train of followers that took more than three minutes to pass a single spot.
At the parade route’s end in Congress Park, there were free carousel rides for all participants, including the toddlers who were old enough to get dressed but still required a stroller.
The festival’s main sponsor was the Saratoga Downtown Business Association, with major contributors including Saratoga.com, STAR 101.3 and the Saratoga Springs Special Assessment District.