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What you need to know for 08/20/2017

People-watching part of the Saratoga summer fun


People-watching part of the Saratoga summer fun

The most universal attraction in Saratoga is people-watching. And the main artery through the heart
People-watching part of the Saratoga summer fun
Street performers Ryan Sullivan and Madeline Giulia play assorted songs on mandolins along Broadway in Saratoga on Tuesday afternoon.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

The drawing cards of Saratoga are mostly acquired tastes, especially if you count the mineral water. For some it’s the track, for others the ballet or philharmonic. Some are enticed to SPAC by the aging song book of a Motley Crue, but who isn’t?

Regardless of what gets you here, there is one seat — any along Broadway, actually — that can appeal to anyone of any age or interest.

The most universal attraction in Saratoga is people-watching. And the main artery through the heart of the city, a sea of sightseers and commerce, street performers and flowing traffic on street and sidewalk, offers front row seats.

“Do you known anything by Todd Rundgren?” a passerby asks a pair of mandolin street performers. “You know, ‘I don’t want to work. I just want to bang on my drum all day?’ ”

Ryan Sullivan of Queensbury and Madeline Giulia of Sudbury, Mass., say no, which begins a process of elimination through the guy’s iTunes library.

“James Taylor? ‘American Pie?’ ”

Don McLean would not be amused.

The passerby leaves with a promise: If the duo learns Warren Zevon’s “Johnny Strikes Up the Band,” he’ll be back in two weeks. “He said he’d give me $100,” Sullivan said.

Little scenes play out up and down the boulevard. Find an outdoor coffee shop seat, or one at the numerous restaurants of varying cost, then take in the dinner theater that comes free with it.

Watch an army of strollers compete for sidewalk space with leashed dogs, a striking number of them small and perhaps purebred. This is mostly a shorts and T-shirt crowd, race-course-backyard types, on this dark day Tuesday. Spotting the monied comes down to eyeing the jewelry or a $750 baby carriage.

From a seat at Uncommon Grounds across from Division Street, roughly 35 or so people walk by every minute. Feel free to delve into the game of “Spot the ballerina.” Pro tip: Do not actually ask a person if in fact they are a ballet performer.

Just to be clear: People watching? OK. Harassment/stalking? A crime.

On Tuesday, more than a thousand people clog Caroline Street, a section of Broadway and an alley beside Northshire Bookstore, waiting to get inside for a book-signing by former secretary of state and presumptive 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. Supporters hand out stickers; protesters hold up signs saying “Benghazi.” Hundreds clutch signed books. City police keep the peace, but there are no confrontations to be seen.

A group of youths solicit donations for their church. A couple of suits walk by at lunch hour; would it be a bummer to have to work as others party around you, or does the atmosphere make the day go faster? Friends, locals, bump into each other at a regular frequency, catching up for a few moments before moving on. You’ll wonder what it would be like to live here.

There are worse places to work, to live, especially in the summer. Every day there is a show on Broadway. Many are the same, but a few offer something special.

Come back in two weeks and you might even catch some Warren Zevon.

Have a favorite summer activity? Let us know about it. Share your ideas for Summer Days at or

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