BALLSTON SPA – The Village Board of Trustees and community members are looking ahead to the holiday season with Halloween a week away.
During Monday’s board meeting Mayor John Romano ran through the highlights from Saturday’s 19th Annual Falling Leaves Festival. The pre-Halloween event takes place each year on the third Saturday in October.
Festivities included a costume parade from Wiswall Park to Kelley Park with awards for best costume in range of categories, a pie eating contest, piñatas, a bounce house, face painting, crafts, games, and plenty of candy.
“It was a resounding success. The costume parade was pretty spectacular, we had a lot of kids participate,” Romano said. “All the kids really had a great time, but I think the highlight was, as usual, the pumpkin launch. DPW last year developed a pumpkin launching machine that is just sensational and the line was pretty much endless for that.”
The night was capped off with a bonfire and fireworks show. “All in all, it was a great event,” Romano said.
Community members have begun looking beyond Halloween, as the planning has begun for the 24th Annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner.
Richard Duffy presented details to the village board for the annual dinner that he is co-chairing along with his wife Donna Duffy and Mayor Romano.
“This is the 24th year that this has gone on. That really says something about this community, about the involvement and about the volunteerism,” Duffy said.
The meal that was started to benefit the homeless population, has been widened to include all members of the community. Duffy noted that whole families will come to the dinner before offering their time as volunteers.
Duffy took pride in the fact that all supplies for the meal are purchased or donated from local sources. The event is supported by donations from local churches and firehouses, the American Legion, the VFW, the Lions Club, the Rotary and the Police Benevolent Association.
The Community Thanksgiving Dinner will be served Thursday, Nov. 23 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. the event is free to attend and all are welcome.
Volunteers will be needed on Thursday to help in the kitchen, to serve, prepare take-out containers, deliver take-out meals and to clean up following the dinner. Those seeking to volunteers on Thursday are asked to call ahead to notify Duffy at 885-8429.
Volunteers will also be needed on Wednesday, Nov. 22 starting at 5 p.m. to help carve turkeys, peel potatoes, slice pie, wrap silverware and more. Advanced notice is not required to volunteer on Wednesday, volunteers may simply arrive to help.
“It’s all about the community doing it for the community,” Duffy said. “It’s for anybody that wants to come, sit down and have a meal.”
Looking a bit further ahead, local artist Mark Blech gave the village board an overview of his community project making ornaments to decorate the community tree in Wiswall Park.
Blech came up with the project when he was approached by the Ballston Spa Farmers’ Market to develop a community art project, although the farmers’ market has ended for the year, Blech decided to move forward with the project.
Blech contacted local groups seeking participants to paint the one of a kind ornaments, including the Ballston Spa Public Library, the Ballston Area Community Center, the Saratoga County Seniors Club, local girl and boy scouts, the Brookside Museum and the Creative Endeavors Art Center.
The ornaments are made using discs of core plastic with wire hangers that participants paint with their own design. Curtis Lumber donated 4 gallons of paint for the project and Blech asked the Village Board to consider donating $300 for the remaining materials.
Local children and adults have already completed about 130 ornaments so far and Blech hopes to have approximately 300 ornaments by the time of the tree lighting ceremony that will take place on Friday, Dec. 1 following the holiday parade that starts at 6:30 p.m.
Members of the Department of Public Works will hang the ornaments on the tree that has only featured lights in previous years.
“They’re really fun and I just thought it would really personalize the tree and create a great community effort and community spirit to bring all the different organizations in the village together to work towards a common goal,” Blech said.
“It’s a great program, I think it’s going to be very popular and very successful,” Romano said.
Blech will be holding ornament decorating events at the Ballston Spa Public Library on Oct. 28, Nov. 4 and Nov. 18 at 1 p.m. each day. The events are open to the whole community from age 4 and up.
Each session is limited to 20 participants, those wishing to attend are encouraged to call the library to reserve a spot. The events are free to attend and all materials will be supplied. Participants are encouraged to bring their own painting smock as these will not be provided.