More than a dozen bands and hundreds of marchers wound their way down Broad Street in the village of Schuylerville Sunday afternoon for the annual Turning Point Parade, one of the largest parades currently held in Upstate New York.
Stretching one and a half hours over block upon block through the village, this year's parade featured 15 musical groups and 100 various units, from local sponsors to emergency response and safety organizations.
The parade is a tradition, and part of a larger weekend-long festival, meant to highlight the area's role in the American Revolution.
According to a history of the parade from the parade planning committee, in the months prior to Oct. 8, 1777, the British Army suffered about 2,000 casualties.
General John Burgoyne's forces, down to about 6,000 men, took refuge in a fortified camp on the heights of Saratoga, today’s Schuylerville. There, an American force that was approaching 20,000 men surrounded the exhausted British army.
Faced with such overwhelming numbers, Burgoyne surrendered on Oct. 17, 1777. By the terms of the Convention of Saratoga, Burgoyne's depleted army marched out of camp and stacked their weapons along the west bank of the Hudson River at Fort Hardy.
The victory in Saratoga is largely acknowledged as a turning point of the American Revolution, hence the name of both the festival and the parade, according to organizers.
This year's Grand Marshalls, Saratoga Town Historian Sean Kelleher, his wife, Debbie Peck Kelleher, and their 12-year-old twins, Henry and Erin, led the parade dressed as American Revolutionary War re-enactors in authentic period clothing.
As the marchers made their way down the route, families packed the front lawns along sides of the streets by town hall and the school building, many toting lawn chairs, coolers and umbrellas to protect them from the sun.
Countless groups were represented on Sunday, including local Girl Scout troops, the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors, public officials including District Attorney Karen Heggen, New York state Assemblymember Carrie Woerner, and Town of Stillwater Supervisor Ed Kinowski, among others.
Countless local veterans' organizations also participated in the parade, many in remodeled older cars, including one vehicle that had previously been a golf cart, but had been painted green and had the roof cut off.
"You can tell that's a golf cart...the steering wheel gave it away," said local resident Ed Brown, who was watching the parade outside on the lawn of the town hall building.
Parade volunteers were scattered around the march route, many chatting with neighbors as they corralled marchers into their starting places. With the heat beaming down, they made sure to emphasize hydration and sun protection to younger volunteers.
"If you guys have to sit or go in the shade for awhile, just remember what sign you were holding before," Cindy Mann, of Schuyerville, called to a group of children who were waiting to march and carry sponsor signs down the road.
Aside from being a showcase of local shops, organizations and community partners, the parade also functions as a way to bring pride, and to remind people of the deep and historically significant roots present in the area. The Uncle Sam Chorus made its way down the parade route calling out songs and urging watchers to sing along.
"This is what it's all about, right here," called out a member of the chorus as he gestured to the crowd cheering for the marchers as they made their way down the road.