Saratoga Springs could not contain itself Saturday.
From the open-air artists and live music of the Saratoga ArtsFest to the massive Flag Day Parade that brought thousands to Broadway and the centennial celebration afterward in Congress Park, the Spa City was bursting with people and revelry.
A handful of artists set up their easels along Broadway around 10 a.m. for the ArtsFest’s Plein Air on Broadway event, but the day really kicked off with the Elks Flag Day Parade at noon.
“Our Flag Day Parade is our biggest parade in downtown Saratoga Springs, and we’re thrilled with the turnout, the weather,” said Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen. “The participants in the parade couldn’t be better.”
For more than an hour, dozens of community groups and organizations paraded down Broadway as onlookers crowded the street for a better view. Standing at the end of the parade route, under a giant American flag, Yepsen said this year’s parade was dedicated especially to commemorating veterans of the Vietnam War on the 50th anniversary of the United States’ major escalation in the conflict.
“We asked our Vietnam War veterans to come and be recognized and finally appreciated for their service, for giving us this freedom to allow us to have wonderful parades like this in our city,” she said.
Broadway was draped in flags, from the banners cascading from the front of the Adirondack Trust Co. to the countless waving flags in the hands of spectators and the stars-and-stripes dress of 2-year-old Tess Prock, in celebration of the adoption of the flag in 1777.
Sitting comfortably in lawn chairs between two parked cars, Dan and Nan Golden of Gansevoort watched the parade with their two young granddaughters. Nan used to march in the parade with a group of young baton-twirlers when she was a teacher in the area and said it was always “really exciting for the girls.”
Saturday’s parade was the second for their granddaughters, and not likely the last.
“It’s becoming an annual event for them,” she said.
For many of the artists painting street scenes up and down Broadway, the ArtsFest Plein Air event is becoming an annual tradition, as well. Mary Beth Vought of Central Bridge was set up near Adirondack Trust, painting the building’s facade.
“It’s fun for me to meet the public and get their reaction to my work, because I work alone most of the time,” she said. “It’s a fun day for me.”
This is her second year in the Plein Air on Broadway event. In plein-air painting, as opposed to studio work, artists have to work quickly to capture the light in a scene, often completing their works in under two hours.
“I don’t try to get a framable painting out of a day like today,” said Vought. “I view it as, ‘I’m going to have a nice day outdoors panting,’ and that mind-set actually helps me to sometimes get a better painting.”
When the parade wrapped up around 2 p.m., the party moved to Congress Park, where the city’s Centennial Committee hosted a Happy Birthday Centennial Celebration for the city’s 100th birthday.
The Children’s Museum at Saratoga arranged children’s games from 1915, the year the city charter was first signed, including sack races, three-legged races, an old-fashioned form of Hula-Hooping with wooden rings, and a game called “catch the cherry.”
And like any good birthday party, there were cupcakes for everyone and the singing of “Happy Birthday,” led by the Ballston Spa Community Band.
“It’s been a great coming together of a lot of different pockets of the city, just willing to participate in the celebration,” said Centennial Committee co-chair Eleanor Mullaney. “I think we’re really just highlighting the best of what Saratoga has, in terms of our history, our art and our culture.”