While many rush to bars, dinners, and galas to celebrate the New Year, upstate New York has several activities for those looking for something unique such as ice skating, painted yoga, and a chilly plunge into Lake George.
Skate Into 2019 in Lake Placid, New York attracts participants from all over North America. It starts at 10:30 tonight, and features leisurely skating for all ages as well as a bonfire. Christie Sausa, a figure and speed skater, created the event in 2008 as a family-friendly alternative.
“For a family, you really can’t go to a bar," says Sausa. "So I thought it might be nice to have a skating party that would also benefit an organization and give people an opportunity to skate in a family-friendly, alcohol-free setting.”
Skate Into 2019 operates almost entirely via volunteers and donations to maximize proceeds for the Lake Placid Ecumenical Food Pantry. Sausa says the event typically raises about $1,000 to help the pantry restock after the holidays.
"If you can’t eat you really can’t skate – that’s an essential," Sausa says. "So they tell us it’s one of their biggest fundraisers, and we’re very happy to continue doing that.”
Meanwhile, The Hot Yoga Spot’s Albany location is hosting a New Year’s Eve “Buti Glow Yoga” class. The energetic workout features a dark room, lit by yoga students in glow sticks, neon clothing, and body paint under a series of black lights. The Spot’s founder Jessica Fuller says the event gives participants an opportunity to let loose and express themselves.
“People really have the option to get as far into it as they want to," Fuller says. "And usually the type of people that come to that event, you know, want to have fun, they’re into it, they like it – so people will go pretty crazy with it, for sure.”
Buti yoga, according to The Hot Yoga Spot, is a movement practice that combines tribal dance, plyometrics, and conditioning with dynamic power yoga. It’s an intense workout, set to a range of music. Fuller says it’s meant to work the body and improve confidence and mental health:
“We just like to offer an option where you can, you know, move a little bit, sweat a little bit, have fun with people in the class with you who are like-minded, and then close out 2018 doing something healthy and fun, and kind of set that precedent going into 2019.”
Body painting at The Hot Yoga Spot in Albany starts at 6:30 p.m., with Buti Glow Yoga kicking off at 7. For those not ready to jump into Buti yoga, the Hot Yoga Spot’s Saratoga location will have vinyasa “glow-ga” at 4:30 p.m.
If you’re looking to shock your system into 2019, there’s the annual Polar Plunge at Shepard Park Beach on Lake George, which can attract more than a thousand people. Participants of all ages crowd the beach and charge into the lake’s freezing waters on New Year’s Day, often warming up at nearby spots like Duffy’s Tavern for the rest of the afternoon. Event organizer Linda Duffy thinks of the event as an annual baptism.
“You’re washing out the old, getting exhilarated, getting yourself pumped up for that New Year, start of the New Year — all fresh and clean," says Duffy.
Members of the Springfield Shriners Hospital and local fire department are on hand to ensure swimmers’ safety. Duffy says the sheer number of participants has forced organizers to split the event into sections.
"It’d gotten so big a few years back, and the fire department pretty much said ‘You know, we wouldn’t be able to see if anyone went down until they got out'...So the first 400 people that sign up, they’ll go in at 1 o’clock, and the second 400 people that sign up, they’ll go in at 1:30 [p.m.], and so on.”
Duffy says swimmers should wear water shoes or sneakers, and pack a towel and a warm change of clothes.
“My suggestion is: don’t walk. Run, run in,” Duffy laughs.
People can sign up from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Duffy’s Tavern. Registration proceeds go to the Springfield Shriners Hospital and fire department.