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Saratoga Springs Kicks Off Centennial Celebration

Lucas Willard

The future of Saratoga Springs — a burgeoning tourist and residential destination — is always the subject of intense debate. But today, city officials looked to the past, as organizers gathered to officially kick off the city’s centennial celebration.

The Spa City was chartered in 1915, when five Saratogians from a former village and town came together to pass their first ordinances. 100 years later, officials are now launching a yearlong celebration that will focus on history, the arts and culture with a list of events and programs.

Inside city hall, Spa City mayor Joanne Yepsen read a proclamation marking Saratoga’s centennial, describing some of the first ordinances passed in the city, including one that prohibited “railroad trains” from stopping in front of roadways.

“They also did something far more important, they made us a city,” said Yepsen. “Whereas, Saratoga Springs has already become famous far and wide for its mineral springs and its attractions as a popular resort, but in those early years in the last century, Saratoga Springs, along with the rest of the United States, was changing.”

With a population approaching 100 million, America had become a major industrial power. And the people of Saratoga also sought change.

In the 21st Century, the city and community partners have been planning the events and programs associated with the celebration for the past year. Last year, Mayor Yepsen appointed members of the Saratoga Springs Centennial Committee to organize efforts. An official logo, designed by downtown company Fingerpaint Marketing, was unveiled last summer at Saratoga Race Course. And the mayor and the committee kicked off the new year with fireworks during First Night and the proclamation.

Eleanor Mullaney, co-chair of the Centennial Committee, said the celebration will bring together a wide range of partners.

“It’s going to be a citywide festival of events, there’s going to be things going on in the arts scene, in the history scene. And we’re going to try and tie it all together.”

Some highlights include the state officially honoring the city’s 100th birthday on April 7th. On April 14th , the Saratoga History Museum will open a new exhibit with 200 years of maps of Saratoga. On June 1st, Honorary Co-chairs Marylou Whitney and John Hendrickson will unveil the completed Centennial Park at the end of Union Avenue, now under construction. The Spirit of Life statue in Congress Park, an image of which adorns the centennial logo, will be restored and rededicated on June 26th.

Observations will also be held on racing opening day on July 17th.  Meanwhile, discussions and exhibits are scheduled at the Saratoga Springs Public Library, as is a rededication of the High Rock Spring as an origin of the city. Returning the waters to Saratoga was something the mayor showed particular enthusiasm about.

“So it’s very exciting to think about the High Rock Spring to be turned back on again. This was my one goal of the committee, and they have already accomplished so much in this regard.”

Among other things will be the release of the History of Saratoga Centennial book, with works by 25 authors, Sustainable Saratoga’s work to plant 100 trees in the Spa City, and other events for visitors and locals.

For more information: http://www.saratogacentennial.com/

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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