Thomas Dimopoulos

Thomas Dimopoulos

City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
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LAKE GEORGE – Accomplished world soloists, graduates of Juilliard, Curtis, Yale, Rice University, Carnegie Mellon, and members of major orchestras such as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Malaysian Philharmonic, and the Buffalo Philharmonic will perform at the Lake George Music Festival “Drive-In” Series Sept. 19-20. 

Attendees are encouraged to watch the performance from their car/truck, or bring a chair to place within arm’s length of their vehicle. Performances will be visually enhanced with large screen video and audiences will have the option of listening to the amplified performance, or tuning into a high quality and synced audio feed (FM radio) to play through their car’s sound system.

The program will feature Beethoven Quintet for Piano and Winds, Schubert “Trout” Quintet, Rubinstein Octet Op.9, and more. 

The event takes place at the Charles R. Wood Park - Lake George Festival Commons, at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19 and Sunday, Sept. 20.

From organizers: We will begin parking cars at 6 p.m. Cars will be parked every other car and in single rows to comply with physical distancing recommendations.  We encourage guests to arrive with members of your household.  Early entry will not be permitted. We encourage attendees to use the restroom prior to arrival; however, we will have sanitized restrooms on site. The entire process will be “touchless.” Those who order their passes online will have no contact with festival staff or musicians. We will simply check you in and direct you where to park. Cars will be directed to vacate the premises immediately after curtain and will not be allowed to linger.

Passes for each concert sold at $25 per vehicle. Vehicles may contain the legal limit of individuals. Passes will be sold online in advance (recommended) or at the gate. Concert programs will be distributed digitally on the large screen or available to view on your Smartphone or Tablet.

For more information and to purchase passes, go to: lakegeorgemusicfestival.com. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS - The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) will host a re-imagined “TRF BBQ at the Barn” summer fundraiser 4 – 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. at The Saratoga Winery.  This year’s BBQ will be carry-out with a twist. 

Guests will drive thru the grounds to enjoy a TRF “Experience” with miniature ponies, racing celebrities, goodies for the kids, and a special appearance by Joey, the TRF Herd Ambassador, who will be returning to Saratoga from the TRF Second Chances Program at Wallkill.  The event will feature BBQ from Barnsider BBQ in Lake George; a TRF Specialty cocktail created by the Winery; and locally made pies from Mourningkill Bake Shop.  Items will be individually ordered online for carryout (only). Proceeds from the event will benefit the hundreds of TRF horses in the organization’s national herd.

The Saratoga Winery is located at 462 NY-29 in Saratoga Springs. Tickets and donation options available by visiting the TRF website at www.trfinc.org/event/bbq-at-the-barn-2020/ .

Founded in 1983, the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation is a national organization devoted to saving Thoroughbred horses no longer able to compete at the racetrack from possible neglect, abuse and slaughter. As the
oldest Thoroughbred rescue in the country, the TRF provides sanctuary to retired Thoroughbreds throughout their lifetime.

For more information visit: www.trfinc.org.

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Local antiques specialist and auctioneer Mark Lawson secured an exceptional result in the sale of an antique Chinese bronze censer for his long-time client Jim Kambrich, the recently retired
anchor for WNYT Channel 13 News. 

The bronze censer had come down through Kambrich’s family from his grandparents and was among the items Jim and his wife Susan sold through Mark Lawson Antiques in an effort to downsize and move after Jim’s retirement. 

The censer was about 11 inches tall and took the form of a “foo dog,” the mythical Chinese guardian lion that typically stands in front of Imperial palaces. An initial sale price for this piece was $300 to $500. When the gavel finally fell, the sale price was $20,000. Remarkably, this kind of thing happens regularly with the sale of good quality Chinese antiques to a new and growing population of native Chinese collectors. 

Mark Lawson Antiques is currently cataloguing its next sale, a live auction with online-only bidding scheduled for Aug. 1, 2020. Live previews will be held on July 30 and 31. Please see marklawsonantiques.com for details. 

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Syracuse District, and SCORE present an update webinar on SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) and New York State’s Women-Owned Enterprise (WBE) certification programs.

The free online event will take place 10 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 6. 

SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship for more than 50 years. 

The Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contracting certification  process is changing, and the new certification will be required as of Oct. 15. Applications can be submitted using the new process starting in July. Becoming certified for the WOSB program means your business is eligible to compete for WOSB Federal Contracting Program set-aside contracts.

The webinar will feature Stephen Barr - Business Opportunity Specialist, SBA Syracuse District Office, and Kayla Perry - Program Manager, North Country Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). 

Register for the webinar at: score.zoom.us/webinar/registerWN_5f5sKYCpQQWZYGQe68fqw

Funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — This week, city Mayor Meg Kelly read three proclamations. The first honored the legacy of Solomon Northup.

Northup, a free black man living in Saratoga Springs, was in March 1841 tricked by two con artists who had promised him work in New York City but instead transported him further south where he was sold into slavery. It is where he would remain for the next 12 years.

At the time, Northup was 32 years old and lived with his wife, Anne, and their three children in Saratoga Springs - first on Washington Street, then relocating around the block to the United States Hotel. He was engaged in seasonal work at the busy hotels during summers and secured engagements as a violin player during the winter months to make ends meet. 

“I was walking about the village of Saratoga Springs, thinking about where I might obtain some present employment…on the corner of Congress Street and Broadway near the tavern still kept by Mr. (C.B.) Moon,” Northup recounted in the book he wrote about those years, titled: “Twelve Year a Slave.” 

The strangers promised Northup $1 for each day of service plus $3 per show in addition to cover his traveling expenses back to Saratoga Springs. He was enslaved for 12 years.

Saratoga’s reputation as a resort town had already been established by the mid-1800s. The black population in Saratoga Springs grew from less than 100 in the 1830s to nearly 300 by mid-century. Many were attracted, as Northup was, by the hope of job opportunities. 

“I passed the days and nights. I was heart sick and discouraged. Thoughts of my family, of my wife and children, continually occupied my mind. When sleep overpowered me, I dreamed of them - dreamed I was again in Saratoga - that I could see their faces, and hear their voices calling me,” Northup wrote.

Although northern-based blacks were said to be free, many were kidnapped and brought South where they would be sold. In 1800, all of Saratoga County had 358 slaves. By 1810, the figure was 107. At the time of Northup’s abduction 30 years later, census figures list a total of four slaves in the entire state of New York. By comparison, southern states like Georgia showed 280,000; South Carolina more than 320,000 and Virginia recorded nearly a half million slaves among the population in the 1840s.

Solomon Northup Day, launched by local resident Renee Moore, was first designated in Saratoga Springs in 1999. A plaque commemorating Northup was fixed outside the Saratoga Visitors Center on the corner of Congress Street and Broadway. 

Northup’s book was published shortly after his release in 1853. In 2013, a film adaptation of Northup’s book, titled “12 Years A Slave,” garnered numerous awards, including an Oscar for Best Picture of the Year.   

A second city proclamation honored the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Capital District Transit Authority on Aug. 1 and noted that in its highest ridership year CDTA had secured 17.1 million riders. 

A third proclamation expressed appreciation for the work conducted by AIM Services, Inc., who have residential and community-based services to people with disabilities since 1979 in Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties, and was read in advance of next week’s 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — In 1821, renowned composer, musician, show man and bandleader Francis Johnson was hired to come to Saratoga and entertainer summer visitors at Congress Hall. 

The Philadelphia-born fiddle player had adapted his musical skills to the newly designed keyed bugle which earned him high prominence on the early 19th century concert circuit, providing him bookings   all across North America as well as overseas. 

Born a free black man, Johnson led his band in Saratoga Springs for more than 20 years - between 1821 and 1843 - missing only the 1840 season. He played to overflow crowds that invited extended bookings. 

"The groves and spacious halls of Saratoga resounded with the notes of this enchanting bugle and violin," reads one anonymously penned local review of the era, praising Johnson and his band's performance of "music from all the recent operas, together with waltzes, gallopades, marches and quicksteps." 

Johnson performed twice a day in Congress Park and alternated evenings at Congress Hall and the United States Hotel. His compositions included pieces titled in honor of the region - "Saratoga," "Congress Hall," and "Ballston," among them. 

He entertained families with cheerful marches, livened up parties with cotillions - brisk, lively dance tunes, enjoyed by audiences that included James Monroe and John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren. 

For his band, Johnson hired what was regarded as some of the best black musicians of the early 19th century, and shortly before his death in 1844, he staged what are believed to be some of the first integrated concerts in America. 

The bandleader was recognized in Saratoga Springs on July 20, 1978 – which was declared Frank Johnson Day, in a proclamation issued by the city of Saratoga Springs and signed by Mayor Raymond Watkin.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — As the city begins to move toward budget season – a 2021 budget must be approved by the end of November – the estimated revenues that will factor into that budget are anticipated at nearly $8 million less than was budgeted for 2020.   

“Even with the phased reopening, our city cannot expect revenues to rise to former levels immediately upon the reopening of our downtown,” city Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan told the council this week. 

“It is generally held that it will be months, if not years before the new economy establishes itself well. In addition social, behavioral and consumer changes due to closed businesses, wide-spread unemployment and other results of COVID-19 will continue to affect revenue collection well into the future.” 

Madigan estimated that revenue collection - without any additional state or federal aid - at approximately $7.8 million less than the amount estimated for the pre-COVID world of 2020. As such, the 2021 general operating budget revenue is anticipated to be $40.9 million, down from the current year’s $48.7 million adopted budget. 

Madigan reported the following year-to-date comparisons: 

Sales Tax: year-to-date collection 19% lower than last year. More specifically - May 2020 is 37% less than May 2019.

Occupancy Tax: year-to-date collection is 54% lower than last year at this time. Specifically, 2nd quarter collection is 78% less than 2nd quarter collections in 2019.

Mortgage Tax: 0.24% lower than 2019, year-to-date. 

Some Good News: The state released 80% - or $1.86 million - of annual VLT aid amount to the city.

COVID-19 SAFETY PROTOCOLS

City officials said this week that a newly amended state law will provide greater clarity in enforcing COVID-19 safety protocols. The amended law comes in the wake of some businesses and municipalities alike requesting stronger language than what had previously been issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo as an Executed Order. 

“The New York State Department of Health (on July 9) amended the Public Health Law, specifically Section 66, which codifies statutorily the requirements that Gov. Cuomo had implemented in the executive order and also imposed the ability for civil penalties associated with that, establishing authority for state and local municipalities to enforce those provisions,” City Attorney Vincent DeLeonardis said Tuesday. 

“So it’s something we’re looking at to address that’s not necessarily punitive or restrictive, but lets people know that health is a priority for Saratoga Springs, that you can come here and feel comfortable,” said Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton. 

“We’ve been looking for ways to encourage and enforce people wearing face masks in and around Saratoga Springs. It continues to be a problem, and the problem has grown. We keep hearing from people who are uncomfortable to leave their homes, or uncomfortable to visit here because they’re afraid they’re not going to be safe and healthy if they visit our downtown,” she said, adding that the biggest problem is weekend nights on Caroline Street, where large crowds gather along the sidewalks outside late-night establishments.    

‘It’s not really the bars and restaurants, they’re doing a great job, it’s the people who are coming downtown and wandering in big packs on the sidewalks (and) no one’s wearing a mask. So that to me is the more urgent situation for us to be able to address the safety issue through this public health amendment.” Dalton said during Tuesday’s City Council meeting. “We’re not going to be scouring Broadway in the middle of the day, seeking out people who aren’t wearing masks.” 

DPW Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco argued that the police had better things to do than to enforce people wearing masks. Commissioner Dalton responded to say there already exists a police presence along Caroline Street, and actions there wouldn’t take away from any other safety issues in the city. 

Commissioner Madigan added that there is no reason why police wouldn’t want to ask large crowds who had gathered to disperse or to don masks, and that pedestrians exhibiting safety measures also provide a positive display for local economic reasons in assuring people it is safe to visit and shop downtown. 

The amended Public Health Law – which may be read in its entirety on the NYS website under New York Codes, Rules and Regulations heading -  contains some exemptions, and reads, in part: Any person who is over age two and able to medically tolerate a face-covering shall be required to cover their nose and mouth with a mask or face-covering when in a public place and unable to maintain, or when not maintaining, social distance.

SARATOGA COUNTY DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC HEALTH RESIGNS

Saratoga County Director of Public Health Catherine Duncan announced this week that she will retire, effective July 31. As such, the agency is currently actively seeking to fill the position of Commissioner Of Health. 

The appointment to the position is for a term of six years at a salary of $132,446 plus benefits. Job responsibilities include to direct, manage and regulate the Department’s delivery of public health services throughout Saratoga County. Requirements include: being a physician currently registered to practice medicine in New York State and possessing two years of experience in administrative practice in a health-related organization or government agency. For more information about the position, call 518-885-2225, or go to: www.saratogacountyny.gov.

HEALTH & WELLNESS PROPRIETORS UTILIZE CITY PARKS

The City Council unanimously approved on Tuesday, and Commissioner of Public Works Anthony “Skip” Scirocco announced Wednesday that Saratoga Springs based gyms, fitness trainers, and yoga studios are able to utilize Congress Park, High Rock Park, Geyser Road Veterans Memorial Park, and the Waterfront Park to host workout sessions without paying rental fees through Sept. 7. 

Health and wellness proprietors can host classes at the specified parks by filling out a rental use agreement. 

Regulations: No permanent equipment can be installed and a strict carry-in, carry-out procedure must be followed. Safety guidelines set forth by the CDC must be adhered to including mask wearing and social distancing. No loud speakers, loud music, or other activity interfering with others’ enjoyment of the park will be authorized. Providers must submit an anticipated schedule and location to inform the city of routine dates and times of usage, and DPW will resolve any conflicts between providers and/or other renters of the parks; location preference will be given to paid renters. A Certificate of Insurance must also be furnished. 

Interested parties should contact Mary in the Department of Public Works at 518-587-3550 ext. 2555 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to obtain a rental agreement or for more information.

COVID-19 TESTING

COVID-19 Testing Sites and Antibody Testing Sites for Saratoga County change frequently and are updated at the Saratoga County website.  Currently, sites include: Saratoga Hospital and Wilton Medical Arts – where COVID-19 and Antibody testing are available to Saratoga County residents of all ages with a provider order; Malta Med Emergent Care - Provider order required, and Saratoga Hospital Medical Group Primary Care in Ballston Spa - Antibody testing only – available with provider order. Appointment information, criteria for testing, and a regularly updated list of testing sites is available at: www.saratogacountyny.gov.

Thursday, 16 July 2020 12:43

A Cautious Start

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The bugler blows the Call To The Post. If there are no spectators inside the racecourse to hear it, does it make a sound? 

In this unusual summer of a most unusual year, the racing season nonetheless got underway as scheduled on July 16, and is slated to run through Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 7. This year, a lot will be different. Perhaps the biggest is staging the races – or at least the start of the summer meet - without fans in the stands, in compliance with New York State guidelines. 

Forty-eight hours prior to the start of the Saratoga meet, NYRA officials and members the city’s Public Safety department staged a joint press conference at the racecourse to discuss additional changes for the start of the summer meet. 

“The critical part of this meet is we celebrate racing – but, we celebrate at home. This city cannot have people come to the track and try to watch the races,” said city Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton. 

The city requested and NYRA complied with the installation of  a temporary “privacy fencing” along exterior boundaries of the race course on Union and Nelson Avenues where it is feared fans may congregate on the sidewalk in close quarters to catch glimpses of the action inside. 

“The COVID pandemic has really changed the way we do things – both personally and professionally,” said assistant city Police Chief John Catone, who along with Public Safety Commissioner Dalton, was joined by city Fire Department Battalion Chief Aaron Dyer at the press gathering on July 14.

Catone discussed the importance of having a “fluid safety plan” which can flex as COVID-related restrictions are either increased,  or loosened – in the latter case enabling the potentiality of limited spectator attendance or horse owners at some point during the summer. 

“We were trying to figure every potential scenario: no fans to partial fans to everybody’s going to be back to normal,” said Catone, adding that discussions between city officials and NYRA officials were initiated in April. “The safety and operation plan is very fluid,” Catone said, “and it’s also going to be based on what we see the next week or so, in terms of people who want to show up and try to catch live racing - and we’re going to deal with it accordingly.  We want NYRA to have a successful meet but we also do not want to put ourselves in a position like some other states right now – where they opened too early, they didn’t control the pandemic and their numbers have risen dramatically.” 

There will still be “a few” officers assigned to the track and its surroundings, including an officer with a bomb-sniffing dog, and others to deal with potential traffic and pedestrian issues. 

YOU WANT TO MAKE A BET

In 2019, $2.1 billion was wagered on 2,000 races at Saratoga, Aqueduct and Belmont, according to the New York Racing Association. The Saratoga meet delivered the largest return of gambled money - $147 million wagered at the track, and a $705 million all-source handle – meaning many more dollars were spent on Saratoga races at off-track betting sites across the globe, than were at the actual track. Other 2019 betting dollars: Belmont Spring & Summer – 48 days, $525 million all-source handle; Belmont Fall – 37 days, $275 million; Aqueduct – 25 days Fall, $205 million. 

This year, on July 13, NYRA announced that the Belmont Park spring/summer meet generated $15,466,198 in average daily handle from all sources, a 42 percent increase over the daily handle during 2019 spring/summer meet. And despite running 23 fewer days than in 2019, all sources handle during the spring/summer meet totaled $386,654,955.

Financially, the city of Saratoga Springs is estimated to suffer a $14 to $16 million revenue loss this calendar year, or a quarter of the city’s $48.7 million budget due to the onset of the COVID-19 epidemic. The city receives no money from wagering, said Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan. It normally receives funds via an admission tax; those funds go to Saratoga County and are then shared with the city of Saratoga Springs. However, with no fans in the stands as it looks right now, there will be no paid admissions and subsequently no funds to come the city’s way.    

NEW RULES FOR JOCKEYS

Two days prior to opening day, NYRA announced a number of updated health and safety protocols that includes closing the track to out-of-town jockeys riding at other racetracks, and requiring all personnel working at Saratoga Race Course in any capacity to produce a negative COVID-19 test in order to access the property. That policy is inclusive of jockeys, valets, NYRA employees, trainers and their staff, outside vendors and credentialed media. A NYRA spokesman Tuesday said that a partnership with Saratoga Hospital was secured for a consistent stream of testing. 

The 2020 Saratoga Summer Condition Book currently lists 22 active jockeys and three apprentice riders. This group is to be considered the regular NYRA jockey colony.

Any jockey who rides at a racetrack outside of Saratoga from opening day forward will be considered an out-of-town jockey and will not be permitted at Saratoga Race Course. Out-of-town jockeys not currently riding at another racetrack may be considered for inclusion in the regular NYRA jockey colony provided the jockey does not ride at another racetrack.

In addition to race day safety protocols including standard health screening and temperature check, NYRA says the jockey quarters at Saratoga Race Course have been substantially altered to provide maximum social distancing and reduce density. All areas accessed by jockeys during the regular course of a race day are closed to all outside personnel, including credentialed media, and are cleaned and disinfected throughout the day.

Jockeys and valets are not permitted access to the barn area. In order to work a horse in the morning, the jockey must meet the horse in the paddock and can then proceed to the main track.

 Steeplechase jockeys must produce a negative COVID-19 test in order to access the property and will be completely isolated from the regular NYRA jockey colony in a physically separate location. Following that day’s steeplechase race, which will be carded as race one, the steeplechase jockeys will depart the property.

 NYRA will follow current Centers for Disease Control (C.D.C.) and New York State Health Department guidance when determining the return of a jockey who has tested positive for COVID-19. This process will include a period of quarantine determined by the severity of the individual case followed by a series of diagnostic tests to rule out ongoing infection. 

Following the four-day opening weekend at Saratoga, live racing will be conducted five days a week, Wednesdays through Sundays.

Thursday, 16 July 2020 12:39

Congress Park Vandalized

SARATOGA SPRINGS — A bronze sculpture of a Civil War soldier dedicated in September 1875 in Congress Park was found to be vandalized early Thursday morning. A plaque adjoining the soldier – a mustached figure wearing a cap and a knee-length coat - reads: The 77th Regiment New York Volunteers, Bemis Heights Battalion.

Earlier this week, graffiti marred the pedestrian steps on the south side of the park. 

“We will not tolerate this kind of vandalism and destruction in the city – between the (graffiti marred) Katrina Trask steps and now the statue in Congress Park, we’re going to find out who did this and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law,” said Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton. 

It is not known whether surveillance cameras in Congress Park had captured any of the activity. Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to contact the Saratoga Springs Police Department at 518-584-1800. 

Thursday, 09 July 2020 13:02

Looking For A Little Civility

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Campfire s’moreo. Bourbon truffle maker. Baked placid cheesecake, and mango dragon fruit sherbet.  There are more than 60 different flavors available at Stewart’s Shops, including those four which are part of the summertime limited edition kind. This summer, the company thought it a most appropriate time to re-introduce a limited-edition flavor that first premiered two years ago. It’s called: Civility. 

“Just plain old kindness,” “getting along with people,” “putting out a positive energy to everybody you come across,” sound the endorsements in the company’s 80-second video clip re-introducing the ice cream flavor. 

“It initially launched in 2018, a time when things were similar to how they are today - a country divided,” Stewart’s Shops spokeswoman Erica Komoroske said this week. “Right now, we’re having a big issue with masks. People are really divided on the mask issue. COVID-19 has put people on edge and we see a lot of hostility, customers yelling at each other in our shops about wearing a mask.  What better time to bring back ‘civility,’” she says. 

By definition the practice of extending basic politeness and respect to all citizens of society; by flavor, a vanilla based ice cream with a salty caramel swirl thought up by owner Bill Dake and created at the company manufacturing plant in Greenfield. “It’s a non-nut flavor,” she says.  “We’ve had dozens and dozens of requests from customers to bring Civility back.” 

Stewart’s Shops are deemed essential businesses and as such have remained open for the duration of the COVID period. It counts approximately two dozen shops within 10 miles of Saratoga Springs, 55 shops in Saratoga County and approximately 5,000 employees and 337 stores in New York and Southern Vermont. 

On July 1, the company posted a lengthy statement on its web site detailing its priority to protect the health and safety of customers and employees, its adherence to CDC recommended guidelines and the protocols it was taking: the installation of plexiglass barriers at cash registers, offering hand sanitizer for customer use, regularly sanitizing high-touch areas, and posting signage to enforce customer social distancing, among them. 

All shop employees - across New York and Vermont - are required to wear face coverings. Store signage informs that customers over the age of 2 medically able to do so are also required to cover their face with a mask or cloth face covering. However, it the customers’ responsibility to comply with the mask order. 

“A mask is required, but we can’t put our partners in a position to enforce it,” Komoroske says. We’re trying to offer gentle reminders to customers – ‘hey, did you forget your mask today?’ There have been physical altercations in our parking lot. There have been customers chased with a tire iron. This mask issue has definitely divided people.” 

The problem, she says, is the wearing of masks is not mandated by law. “If Ag & Markets came out with a law that said masks are mandatory, we would have better backing to enforce it as well,” she says. 

“It’s not a law, it’s an executive order,” says Robin Dalton, public safety commissioner in Saratoga Springs. “There is no enforcement that is available to us as a local municipality to do anything other than remind and strongly encourage people to wear their masks. We are completely hamstrung. Our police department very much wants to follow the rule of law, but they are not going to write a ticket for something they know is not a law and not enforceable,” Dalton says. 

“Personally – I think every single person should be wearing a mask when they step outside. If they aren’t around people, they should have it dangling on their wrist, like I do, so the second they see someone coming into their space, throw it on, or cross the street,” she explains. “There are a lot of people stuck at home, who are terrified to go downtown and terrified to go outside  because other people are not willing to show them the common courtesy and respect of putting on a face mask. I think it has to do with safety, and with respect. We are such a philanthropic and giving community, but when it comes to this one particular issue, for some reason which I will never understand, it’s polarizing.” 

A survey initiated by Saratoga-based tourism agencies conducted in June in which just over 3,200 participated, listed “masks worn by employees” as the top safety precautions businesses and their employees can take that will motivate respondents to visit their businesses. The results of the survey, publicly released July 8, also listed “a lack of trust in venues enforcing proper safety guidelines” as the main reason nearly 1,000 of the respondents are deterred from visiting Saratoga County. 

The survey partnered Mind Genomics the Saratoga County Chamber, Discover Saratoga, the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership and other agencies and was designed to glean information about what will motivate respondents to visit Saratoga County in the next six months.

Absent stronger language from the state regarding  mandatory mask-wearing of customers, Stewart’s Shops is test-marketing different ideas. 

“We’re rolling out a test right now offering complimentary masks in one of our district of 17 shops in Valatie, and we’re trying to learn: are people going to respond? will they take the mask? how will they respond if a partner offers them a mask?” Komoroske says. “if that test goes well, we’ll roll that out company-wide.” 

SARATOGA SPRINGS –  Playable pinball machines celebrating Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Castle, paying tribute to the Rolling Stones, Kiss, Guns N’ Roses and others, and the acoustic guitar upon which The Who’s Pete Townshend composed “Pinball Wizard” will go on exhibit at Universal Preservation Hall this month.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame exhibit “Part of the Machine: Rock & Pinball” opens Sunday, July 26 for a two-month run at UPH, located at 25 Washington St. in Saratoga Springs.   

The interactive exhibit showcases rock-themed, playable pinball machines and combines them with merchandise and artifacts to explore the artistic portrayal of artists and bands. 

UPH, a partner in the Proctors Collaborative, will sell tickets for 90-minute blocks throughout the run. Tickets will be available for admittance at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. each day and hours will be extended to include 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. admittance on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The event concludes on Saturday, Sept. 26. 

Part of the Machine: Rock & Pinball is presented at UPH by Adirondack Trust Company. 

Pinball and rock became inextricably linked, with the Who and the group’s opus ’Tommy,’ which highlighted the skills of the rock opera’s lead character. Pinball was banned until the mid-1970s in most of America’s big cities because it was considered a form of gambling.

On display, along with the classic “Wizard” and “Tommy” pinball machines, is Pete Townshend’s acoustic guitar used to compose “Pinball Wizard” and several other Who songs from the album ‘Tommy.’    

Making its debut as part of the exhibit is Alice Cooper’s newest pinball machine – Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Castle. The classic horror adventure game is narrated by Alice himself and features a number of songs spanning Cooper’s career and a working guillotine set piece. An electric chair stage prop that Cooper used in his 1971 tour across North America and Europe is on display in the exhibit.    

Fans can also view pioneering pinball machines of their favorite musicians such as Captain Fantastic (1976), based on the album by Elton John and his character in Tommy, and Beat Time (1967), one of the oldest rock and roll tables, which capitalizes on Beatlemania, featuring several mop-topped musicians and a drumhead emblazoned with “The Bootles.”    

Other rare and sought-after playable machines in the exhibit pay tribute to the Rolling Stones, Dolly Parton, Guns N’ Roses, Elvis, Metallica, KISS and AC/DC. From Peter Criss of KISS’ drum set to Dolly Parton’s dress that inspired the backglass for the DollyParton pinball machine, fans will find other artifacts on display as they learn more about the popular pinball and rock subculture. 

Hosting the exhibition at UPH has been in the works more than a year as the Saratoga venue sought to develop programming that complimented - rather than competed - with Saratoga’s live entertainment scene in the summer. 

“It wasn’t clear when COVID-19 came along that we could hold the event but now that museums are reopening in the state we are proceeding with our plans,” said Teddy Foster, director at UPH.  

UPH will follow Center for Disease Control and Prevention and New York State safety guidelines in establishing safety protocol for exhibit visitors. Each visitor, staff person and volunteer will be required to bring and wear a face mask and to wear provided gloves while playing the pinball machines. All individuals will also be required to maintain proper social distancing. 

UPH staff will also take and record each individual’s temperature and procure proper tracing information, and sanitize all surfaces including handrails, light switches, elevators, exhibit pieces, restrooms and common surfaces before new groups are admitted. Capacity will be initially limited to 20 guests per time slot and will be re-evaluated regularly. 

Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students and are available now at universalpreservationhall.org.    

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