A bed of Ivory Floradale, Black Hero and Muscari tulips saw a lot of action Saturday.
Ted Martin of Troy parked his two young daughters in front of the bed in a wagon to take a few photos. On the other side, Jessica Mora of Amsterdam snapped a few shots of her daughter and niece.
Before and after them, thousands more passed by, leaning over and peering closely at the nearly perfect blooms, shooting photos with professional zoom lenses and snapping selfies with smartphones.
Martin said this was his daughters’ first time at Albany’s annual Tulip Fest in Washington Park.
“They’re having a good time,” he said. “They want ice cream. Who wouldn’t in this weather?”
The 67th annual, two-day Tulip Fest kicked off Saturday on an idyllic spring day, with temperatures in the high 70s, lots of sunshine and a light breeze.
Thousands of people poured into Washington Park for the 75,000 tulip bulbs — of about 150 varieties — at peak bloom. Seventeen-year-old Schuyler King, a student at Voorheesville High School, said he’s been coming to the festival for years, but had never actually looked at the tulips until this year.
“And they’re worth it, definitely,” he said.
King and a group of friends lounged on the grass in the shade of a tree Saturday afternoon after the band Joywave finished its set, waiting for the festival’s headliner, British pop band The Kooks, to take the main stage around 4 p.m.
Rochester’s Joywave, an indie pop band with some upbeat, danceable hits, kept the crowd moving from about 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.
“Joywave was out of this world,” said 18-year-old Luke Gorka. “Amazing energy and crowd work. What was it about them? There was just tons of energy, enthusiasm and great music. They just seemed really happy to be here. Great warm-up to The Kooks.”
Earlier in the day, at the Washington Park Lakehouse, a new Tulip Queen was crowned. Caitlin Whelan, the 2014 queen, passed her crown to 22-year-old Alexandra Cronin of Selkirk, a graduate of SUNY Brockport currently taking classes at the University at Albany and working part-time as a personal trainer at Albany Medical Center.
The queen receives a $5,000 scholarship, and each member of the court receives $1,500. Once crowned, the queen spends the next year as the city’s ambassador for a variety of community projects, including the Mayor’s Literacy Campaign to promote reading among children. The queen and her court also team up with the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region to award grants to local literacy organizations.
The new queen celebrated Saturday night at the Royal Tulip Ball, and the festival continues today with the 17th annual Mother of the Year Award, a dance-off and all the vendors, food, rides, music, and, of course, tulips from Saturday.
As King and his friends relaxed in the calm between Joywave and The Kooks, they said they were thoroughly enjoying their day at the festival.
“The weather is beautiful, the bands are great and the tulips are beautiful,” said King.