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Thursday, 22 January 2015 10:32

City Centennial Events Revealed

SARATOGA SPRINGS – You don’t turn 100 years old every day, or every year in fact – and so when you do, you put together a comprehensive celebration that reflects that milestone. 


That is the short course on the big plans that were detailed by Mayor Joanne Yepsen and the Saratoga Springs Centennial Committee at City Hall on Tuesday, Jan. 20. Indeed, there is not one aspect of city life – be it history, arts, sports and health, among many others – that will not be touched upon in the course of 2015.


“We have so many exciting events and projects lined up,” the mayor said. “In true Saratoga Springs style, our centennial is going to be a one-of-a-kind celebration.” 


While the basic framework of events and projects was announced today, it is reasonable to think that there will be significant additions as the centennial year gathers momentum. Expect the Centennial logo (designed by Fingerpaint Marketing) to be as ubiquitous as the Saratoga 150 logo a few years ago – except in more places and for a longer period of time. 


As the schedule grows through the year, a website (www.SaratogaCentennial.com) will be updated.  


The committee membership itself draws from every facet of the community. The honorary chairs are Marylou Whitney and John Hendrickson. On Tuesday, Mayor Yepsen was joined by planning committee co-chair Eleanor Mullaney and several sub-committee chairs and members in detailing plans for this year. 


For now, these are just a few of the 2015 highlighted Centennial events. In fact, the celebration kicked off on New Years Day, with a reading of a proclamation by Mayor Yepsen: 


- On April 7 there will be a Celebration of Saratoga Springs’ exact date of incorporation as a city by New York State in 1915  


- June 1 is the scheduled unveiling of Centennial Park, at Congress Park and Union Avenue, which was gifted by Marylou Whitney and John Hendrickson  


- June 26 is the Rededication of Spirit of Life statue’s restoration – the iconic symbol of the Centennial logo will have its unveiling in Congress Park 


Mayor Yepsen also took note that sometime in the fall there will be a significant event when the High Rock Spring, the founding location of the city and the site illustrated on the city’s seal, will be re-piped and flowing again, thanks to a grant from the Alfred Solomon Foundation.


“In addition to the many events around the city, we're honored and excited to present such a diverse list of unique centennial projects,” said Mullaney, “from the History of Saratoga Centennial book, with contributions from 25 authors, to the planting of legacy centennial trees around the city.”


A few pieces of commemorative merchandise were also revealed, including t-shirts and 14K gold pendants, which will be on sale at Impressions and N. Fox Jewelers. 


If there is one sure bet, it is that you can expect frequent updates and augmentations to this story. The mayor, centennial committee members and the citizenry of Saratoga Springs wouldn’t have it any other way in its hundredth year.


For more information, visit SaratogaCentennial.com

Friday, 09 January 2015 13:56

Candy Lovers Unite!

Candy Company, Saratoga Sweets to Join Forces

By Arthur Gonick

Saratoga TODAY


SARATOGA SPRINGS – To paraphrase Reese’s, Saratoga County will soon have two great tastes that taste great together! 


That’s because the owner and co-founder of Halfmoon-based Saratoga Sweets, Mike Fitzgerald, recently decided to step back from day-to-day operations after 26 years. The creator of the iconic, beloved “Peppermint Pig” is turning over the reins to son Mike, Jr.


It was announced this week that Saratoga Sweets will shortly combine forces with the 17-year old Candy Company of Saratoga Springs, which was founded by local entrepreneur Dawn Oesch. The new entity will be called Saratoga Sweets Candy Co., retaining The Candy Company’s current retail location at 5 Washington Street, Saratoga Springs. 


The two company’s operations will merge, with an expanded area inside the nearby Rip Van Dam Hotel at 353 Broadway, where Fitzgerald, Jr. will head up a new candy kitchen that will be housed in this space. Meanwhile, Oesch will continue operations at 5 Washington Street with a refreshed look to accompany an expanded product line. Commenting on the forthcoming expansion and working with Saratoga Sweets, Oesch stated: 


“This is a great addition to my store and I am so excited.  My landlord, Bruce Levinsky (owner of both 5 Washington and the Rip Van Dam) has created a larger space for us to make more delectable creations and to carry on Saratoga Sweets traditions. As time moves on we will see what space may be needed to expand and we will grow from there.” 


The Rip Van Dam is also currently the home of an expanded Maestro’s at the Van Dam restaurant, which Oesch noted has a pastry kitchen. This could further help expand the new company’s product line further as the occasion arises.


A target launch date for the newly merged operation has been ambitiously pegged at Jan. 25 “just in time for the busy Valentine season,” Oesch noted. “We are hoping (by that date) to have everything meshed together including a wholesale division, new website and overhaul of both the retail and kitchen spaces.”  


For more information, contact Dawn Oesch at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (518) 580-0499.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014 11:56

Sirsy Keeps It Real

Faithful To Their Roots; Expanding Their Horizons

By Arthur Gonick 

Saratoga TODAY


SARATOGA SPRINGS – This is a band that has always done it right, and it continues to pay off big time. Audiences nationwide are learning what many Capital Region music aficionados have known for years – Sirsy is a standout. 


Whether you are long-time fans of this duo or just about to learn about them, it is worth circling them on your dance card as you plan your travels around downtown Saratoga Springs on New Years Eve. 


Local favorites Sirsy (Melanie Khramer and Rich Libutti) will be making an appearance for two sets as part of First Night Saratoga 2015 festivities. They will be playing two sets, at 8 and 11 p.m., at the Saratoga Springs City Center’s Meeting Room number 1. 


If it will be your first time experiencing a Sirsy performance, expect to see instrumental multi-taskers extraordinaire. The Boston Globe has pretty much summed it up when it deemed them the “Little band. Big sound.” Indeed, the band has a unique visual appeal. In fact, you may not quite believe what you are seeing. 


Melanie (“Mel” to her fans) has the responsibility for being a one-person percussion section, spiced up with frequent flute solos, while providing the vocals for the band’s infectious, mostly original tunes that are alternatively powerful and introspective, danceable and heartfelt. Rich plays everything else, including seething guitar; bass (on a keyboard at his feet.) He is the anchor to Melanie's on stage tornado. Indeed, he appears to have as much going on below his ankles as above during a show.


Sirsy is nothing if not prolific. They both write the music; Mel takes care of the lyrics, which often are surprisingly meditative and self-examining. It’s an interesting contrast to their between songs banter, or when you talk with them between sets, as the conversation is usually littered with laughter and optimism. 


They are about to release their sixth studio album in 2015. “We’ve got about 15 songs half-done,” Melanie reported, “and we already have five that we consider complete. We’ll work with our producers and with their help eventually pare the album down to about 15 songs on the finished product.” 


Translating the dynamism of a live performance into a studio album is not an easy thing, and so Sirsy has a lot of praise for the producers who make it happen. Paul Kolderie and Sean Slade are Grammy-winners who have worked with accomplished artists such as Hole, Radiohead, Dresden Dolls and Pixies. “Our fans have said that the energy of our live show hasn't translated onto our previous recordings.” Melanie said. “They are going to notice a different energy level on this record and it's because of how Paul and Sean worked with us.” 


Yet, there is no doubt that to date, fans have already been buying Sirsy’s CD’s in copious numbers, not to mention other assorted souvenirs of their experience. If anything distinguishes Sirsy as a distinctive power duo above and beyond their music, it’s their ability to ingeniously promote themselves. If they weren’t great musicians, they could easily make a living as a creative agency. Simply put: people want their stuff. 


These purchases usually occur at the ever-present “merch” table— a staple at every show – usually staffed with a few members “The Sirsy Army” – a legion of fans that faithfully volunteer to help sell assorted products. In addition to studio CD’s, these goods have included t-shirts, “authorized” bootlegs (of their live performances) and even panties! All of which helps to put gas in their van (“We’re on our third now,”) Mel noted.


That third van has helped Sirsy log well over 100,000 miles in the past two years, with signature appearances such as the prestigious South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) and leading listening rooms from coast to coast such as West Hollywood, CA’s Viper Room and NYC’s Gramercy Theatre. They have already been asked back to SXSW and will have a featured showcase at the legendary Bluebird Café in Nashville next March. 


Overall, Sirsy has perfected an audience dynamic that you rarely, if ever, see elsewhere. For one thing, Sirsy’s fans have told me on several occasions that they are there because they find it easy to root for Mel and Rich. But that door swings both ways. 


The vibe at their shows is very inclusive and collegial – everyone feels welcome and it has a feel similar you to going to see members of your family perform. In this context, attending a Sirsy show is fulfilling for everyone – the energy of the performers interacting with attendees is mirrored by the sustenance Mel and Rich draw from those fans, and the result is a ‘nuclear synergy’ of good will. The end result: A great time had by all. 


Go see them, and tell me if it isn’t so.

For more information, visit sirsy.com 

Wednesday, 31 December 2014 11:41

A New Record!

Stewart’s Holiday Match Raises Over $1.5M for Children’s Charities


SARATOGA SPRINGS – Donations to the Stewart’s Holiday Match program set a new record in its 28th season; raising funds which will help support hundreds of local children’s charities year round. From Thanksgiving Day through Christmas Day, Stewart’s customers donated over $770,000 to the program, which is then doubled to more than $1.5 million with the Stewart’s match. 


This impressive number was made possible by the generosity of Stewart’s customers, many regularly giving their spare change and others who contributed larger gifts, as well as the hard work of Stewart’s partners and support from media partners.


“Each year our customers meet the challenge of raising more funds for children’s charities,” said Stewart’s Foundation President Susan Dake.  “We are so grateful to our customers for their generosity and loyalty to Stewart’s Shops.”


This was a 15 percent increase in customer donations compared to the past two years, where $1.34 million was raised. The previous Holiday Match record, set in 2011, was $1.39 million. After this year’s funds have been distributed, the Stewart’s Holiday Match program will have allocated more than $20 million since the program’s inception in 1986.


Donations were collected from Thanksgiving Day through Christmas Day at all 331 Stewart’s Shops in upstate New York and western Vermont. Stewart’s then matched all individual customer donations. There are no administrative costs and 100 percent of the funds collected and matched benefit children’s organizations directly within the communities where Stewart’s Shops are located. Those funds will be allocated in March. 


Children’s charities can still apply for funding from the Holiday Match program. Applications are available at all Stewart’s Shops or online at stewartsshops.com. 


Applications must be submitted or postmarked by January 31, 2015 to be considered for funding. All groups applying must be locally based, benefit children under 18, and be a qualified, charitable 501c3 organization.  


For more information visit stewartsshops.com.

Where Your Contributions Go

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Stewart’s Shops uses the tag line of “We are closer to you,” and nowhere is that more true then with its Holiday Match. When you drop your change into the Stewart’s Holiday Match containers at any of their shops, you are making a direct impact upon a staggering number of organizations right in your own community. All of these organizations are not for profit and benefit children under 18 years of age. The following are a list of Saratoga County groups – touching every aspect of society – that received funds from last year’s Holiday Match:

- Arthur Gonick


4-H Fillies & Colts

After the Fire

AIM Services, Inc. 

Angel Names Association

Arthritis Foundation of NENY

Ballard Elementary H S A 

Ballston Area Community Center

Ballston Spa Education Foundation

Ballston Spa High School PTSA

Ballston Spa HS Robotics Team 3044

Ballston Spa Jr Baseball

Bemis Heights CAR

BH-BL Education Foundation 

BH-BL Junior Baseball


Boy Scout Troop 18, Middle Grove

Boy Scout Troop 24, Wilton

Brave Will Foundation 

Bridging People and Places

Capital District Young Life

CAPTAIN Youth and Family Services

Catholic Charities of Saratoga County

Catie Hoch Foundation

Charlton Historical Society

Charlton School

Children’s Museum of Saratoga

Christopher Dailey Foundation

Civil Air Patrol, Wullenwaber

Clifton Park Chabad/Chabad Center

Clifton Park Nursery School

Corinth Cub Scout Pack 22

Corinth Youth Comm. Summer Theatre

Corinth Youth Hockey

Cub Scouts Pack #18

Cub Scouts Pack #25

Division Street PTA (12-082)

Domestic Violence/Saratoga Rape Crisis

DonovanHouse/Catholic Charities 

Dramahawks Corinth School Drama Club

Faith Baptist Church Food Pantry

First Baptist Church of Ballston Spa


Franklin Community Center

Friends and Neighbors of Ballston Spa

Friends of Shendehowa Crew

Friends of the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library

Friends of the NYS Military Museum

Friends of the Stillwater Glen Hollow Park

Gabby Rocco Let It Shine Foundation

Galway Ambulance Corps, Inc. 

Galway Food Panty

Galway High School Drama Club

Galway Players Youth Theatre

Galway PTSA, After Prom Party

Galway Public Library

Girl Scout Service Unit 165

Girl Scout Troop 3228

Girl Scouts of NENY – Troop 3126

Gordon Creek Elementary PTA

Greater Schuylerville Youth Program

Halfmoon Baseball League 

Halfmoon Girls Softball, Inc. 

Harrison Avenue Elementary HAS

Harvest Church

Hawley Foundation for Children

Helping Hands School

Historical Society of Moreau

Hudson Crossing Park, Inc. 

I Am I Can

Iroquois Reading Council

Jake’s Help From Heaven

Junior Achievement of NENY

KIDS Reaching Out Club, Inc. 

Koda Mentor Program

Lake Ave. Elementary School Drama Club

Little Ones Child Care Center Inc.

Malta Avenue Elementary PTA

Mechanicville Area Community Services Center

Mechanicville District Public Library

Mechanicville-Stillwater Youth Soccer

Miss Scotties Softball

Miss Shen Softball

Moreau Elementary School

National Bottle Museum

National Museum of Dance

Newmeadow, Inc. 

Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation

Northeast Mobile Search & Rescue

Northeast String Orchestra

NorthStar Church

Not So Common Players

Odyssey School of Fine Arrts

Okte PTA 

Old Saratoga Athletic Association

Opera Saratoga

Race Track Chaplaincy of America

Round Lake/Malta Youth Baseball League

Rugrunners  Robotics Inc.

Saratoga American Little League

Saratoga ArtsFest

Saratoga Bridges

Saratoga Center for the Family

Saratoga Challengers Inc.

Saratoga Children’s Theatre, Inc.

Saratoga Co. Children’s Committee

Saratoga County 4-H

Saratoga County E.O.C.

Saratoga County Historical Society

Saratoga Hospital – Community Health Center

Saratoga Mentoring ProGram

Saratoga PLAN

Saratoga Reads!

Saratoga Regional YMCA

Saratoga Rowing Association, Inc. 

Saratoga Sponsor A Scholar

Saratoga Springs Recreation

Saratoga Synchronized Skating

Schuylerville Community Theater

Schuylerville High School After Prom Party

Schuylerville Robotics

Search Team 5-1

Second Chance Sports

Shelters of Saratoga

Shenendehowa Dollars for Scholars

Skribblers Magazine Inc. 

Southern Saratoga County YMCA

Spa Christian School

Stillwater Area Community Center

Stillwater Battle Youth Football

Stillwater Education Foundation

Stillwater Free Library

Streaks Running Club

Tesago Elementary School PTA

The Beagle School

The Fisherman’s Net Youth Program

The Karen & Gary Dake Foundation for Children

The King’s School

The Moreau Community Center 

The Prevention Council

The Salvation Army

The Saratoga Automobile Museum

The TEARS Foundation

The Wildlife Institute 

Transitional Services, Inc. 

Troy USBC Youth Association

Venturing Crew 936, BSA

Village of Round Lake

Waterford Little League

Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park

Wilton Youth Baseball

Youth2-Youth Helping Youth


Source: Stewart’s Shops.


Friday, 12 December 2014 09:48

Still Time For Your Perfect Match!

Home Made Theater Encouraging Creative Donations

By Arthur Gonick

Saratoga TODAY


SARATOGA SPRINGS – Now at the beginning of it’s 30th season, Home Made Theater (HMT) has a lot of great reasons to be thankful. Thanks to an anonymous benefactor, as well as some wide spread community support, it may have up to 30,000 more reasons before the end of this year. 


Prior to Thanksgiving, the theatre was prepping for their opening of The Jungle Book, when word reached General Manager Stacie Mayette Barnes that a long-time friend of the theater had pledged to match all donations to HMT up to $15,000 by Dec. 31. 


Never one to miss an opportunity to do something creative – usually on the spur of the moment – Stacie and her staff set about developing an impromptu fundraising drive that was equal parts community involvement, social media and of course, fun!


#HMTPerfectMatch was born. 


The campaign serves Home Made Theater’s goal to raise awareness and funds by encouraging people to make a donation before the end of the year to be matched (visit homemadetheater.org/HMTPerfectMatch to make a donation online or print out a form to do so). 


Once you have made your donation, the creativity and fun begins. People are then encouraged to post photos and videos of their idea of a perfect match to HMT’s Facebook page (see and like facebook.com/pages/Home-Made-Theater/100518173426) using #HMTPerfectMatch and then inspire others to do the same. 


“We’re hoping our Perfect Match campaign is a fun way for people to double their donation while also getting creative with their posts and rallying others to support our community theater,” said Mayette Barnes.


So far, the community has responded very positively and creatively. Some notable perfect matches have been posted so far. For instance:


-Susan and Bill Dake of Stewart’s Shops – their perfect match is ice cream

-Dee Sarno’s perfect match is the Arts

-Photographer Tom Stock’s perfect match is his camera

-The Candy Co.’s Dawn Oesch perfect match is chocolate and maple fudge

-Jaime Martinez-Rivera and his fiancé Elyse are each other’s perfect match

-Deborah Otto-Jones’ perfect match is her morning coffee

-Bo Goliber of Fingerpaint Marketing found her perfect match in philanthropy

-The cast of HMT’s production of The Drowsy Chaperone is a perfect match for the cast of The    Addams Family – HMT’s recent fall production


This certainly puts the ‘fun’ into fundraising and, of course, the possibilities are endless. It’s hard to disagree with any of these matches, and the good news is that there is still time for you to make a donation, find your perfect match, post it and get your donation doubled. 


Home Made Theater is a not-for-profit theater company first and foremost, a success story that has stood the test of time to become a treasured community asset in a community of many such assets. A campaign like this is a great way to be distinctive and yet have a good time. But there’s a serious message behind all of this.


“We’re hoping the momentum carries into the New Year,” said Mayette Barnes, “But most importantly we just want the community to know we’re thankful for their support being the perfect match to our success. We wouldn’t be here without them.”  


The bottom line is that in a world with a variety of perfect matches available, Home Made Theater has proven itself to be a perfect match for everyone in this community, which is why you are invited to join your neighbors and show your backing.


For more information on Home Made Theater or their Perfect Match campaign, visit homemadetheater.org  


SARATOGA SPRINGS — Let the pre-revelry period begin! The formal announcement of the First Night Saratoga 2015 schedule (this year’s theme is ‘Art After Dark’) on Monday, Dec. 1 revealed the usual eclectic balance of genres, old favorites and new arrivals to the program. 

When seeking family-friendly activities, you truly can’t go wrong with anything on the schedule – that’s as core a value as anything First Night stands for. 

But what if you are giving the young ones a treat – bundling up your children, maybe grandchildren and giving them a chance to stay up with the ‘grown-ups’ and (hopefully) get them and you to see the fireworks at midnight? In this case, keeping the fledglings in the family amused and stimulated is Priority Number One. 

While the entire spectacle of First Night, by its nature, will do much to hold a child’s attention, the First Night staff recommends you consider exposing your little ones to any or all of these acts, whose target audiences are children (not that you will be bored, either): 

1)   Airborne Comedians - are a sure bet to make you laugh, whether balanced atop seven foot unicycles or frantically flinging objects at each other. Over the past 15 years, this duo has entertained audiences of all ages and backgrounds. They juggle a cornucopia of objects including (but not limited to) baseball bats, lawn chairs, children, hats, clubs, balls, rings, electric guitars, machetes, flaming lawn chairs, fruits and random objects from the crowd.  

Site: Lake Avenue School Gym # 2: 6, 8 and 10 p.m.

2)   Alpacas of Breezy Hill Ranch, of Salem, NY will bring two docile alpacas to First Night to pet and feed. Owners Lisa and David Proulx will explain fiber processing from shearing to retail products and bring alpaca hats, gloves, mittens, scarves and socks to purchase. Alpacas are very gentle creatures and they hope love it when kids come by to wish them a Happy New Year!  

Site: NBT Bank Parking Lot: All evening starting at 6 p.m. 

3)   Ballston Spa Film Fest, Inc. (BSFF) is an independent non-profit whose mission is to promote an appreciation of films and filmmaking in the Ballston Spa and Greater Capital District communities. They will present “Best of the Fest:” a selection of the best short films from this year’s BSFF featuring animated and live action films from one to fifteen minutes from around the world... and the neighborhood.  

Site: Saratoga Arts’ Dee Sarno Theater: 6 – 8 pm

4)   Buckaroo Bindlestiff’s Wild West Jamboree- My personal choice for the extra hyperactive ones in your clan. This Jamboree has it all: Classic Wild West skills like lasso tricks, target bullwhip cracking and a comedy knife-throwing act. But that’s not all! It also includes a “pony” race for young audience volunteers, a cowboy sing-along, juggling, a six-gun spinning safety talk and a comedic look at America’s Old West. 

Site: Lake Avenue School Auditorium:  6 – 9 p.m.

5)   Jojo’s Fabulous Faces - add a bit of color and sparkle to First Night. They create beautiful, unique designs fast, using professional quality paint and glitter designed to be safe on the skin. 

Site: Lake Avenue School Cafeteria: 6 – 11 p.m.

6)   The Mop and Bucket Company is the region’s favorite improvisational comedy troupe and a long-time First Night Saratoga favorite. MOPCO brings your suggestions in story, song and games to life.  

Sites: Lake Avenue School gym 
#1: 6, 9 and  10 p.m.

7)   Pete and Chris Amusements are the Northeast’s only two-person kid’s comedy magic show. Presto Pete and Incredulous Chris are a high-energy, frenetic duo that uses lots of kid-friendly slapstick. 

Site: Lake Avenue School gym #1: 7 and 9 p.m.

8)   Saratoga Youth Symphony - The SYS provides an orchestral experience for talented student musicians ages 18 and under and represents more than two-dozen schools throughout the Capital District.  

Site: The Church of St. Peter: 6 and 7 p.m.

9)   Schuylerville Community Theater - summer camp kids will represent the hippies and flower children of the 1960s with some songs from the retro play they performed last July. 

Site: Children’s Museum Community Room: 6, 7 and 8 p.m.

10)Silent Wings Raptors - bring birds of prey up close courtesy of the Wildlife Institute of Eastern New York.  Owls, hawks, eagles and falcons; all have remarkable adaptations and skills for survival in the wild and are breathtakingly beautiful and fascinating to watch! 

Site: Lake Avenue School Cafeteria: 6 – 11 p.m.

11)The Zucchini Brothers - From Saratoga Springs, Zucchini Brothers Jack, Steve and Sam are renowned for their concerts in schools, theaters and festivals throughout the country, as well as their internationally syndicated weekly radio show “The Zucchini Brothers, Live! at the Clubhouse.” 

Site: Lake Avenue School Gym #1: 7 and 8 p.m.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014 10:00

100+ Unique Gift-Buying Opportunities!

39th Craft Marketplace Starts Holiday Shopping Season At City Center

By Arthur Gonick

Saratoga TODAY


SARATOGA SPRINGS – Downtown Saratoga Springs is always a great choice to do your holiday shopping. This Saturday, it’s an even better one, as The Saratoga Springs City Center will be wall-to-wall with unique gift ideas from a variety of craft specialists in every medium imaginable.


Saratoga Center for the Family will be the host and beneficiary of the 39th Craft Marketplace on Saturday, November 29, also known as Small Business Saturday. The Marketplace will be held at Saratoga Springs City Center from 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. 


This annual Craft Marketplace attracts over 100 hand-selected artisans who gather in the City Center to showcase and sell their handmade art. These crafts include jewelry, paintings, children’s toys, blown glass, pottery, holiday ornamentation, edibles, clothing and one-of-a-kind specialties. The Craft Marketplace has been a Thanksgiving weekend tradition for 39 years, and Event Chair Ann Wolpert balances variety, quality and craftsmanship to assure that there will be something special for everyone on your holiday gift list.


Marketplace admission is $5 and includes two raffle tickets along with exclusive offers to participating downtown Saratoga Springs restaurants, in an effort to further promote Small Business Saturday commerce. The Craft Marketplace also offers silent auction opportunities for a variety of desirable items such as tickets to local holiday events, autographed collectable memorabilia and much more.


Last year the Marketplace raised over $25,000 for Saratoga Center for the Family, with over 3,000 shoppers in attendance. Funds raised for Saratoga Center support their mission to build stronger families throughout Saratoga County through mental health counseling, educational programs and child advocacy center. 


Some of the many notable and talented artisans include:


- John and Linda Garrison  

Handmade Glass Hot Air Balloons 

When asked about his craft, artisan John Garrison notes, “The process is quite extensive. First, tubing glass is heated, manipulated and thickened. Then, using a set of four burners and a lathe, the glass is spun and blown into a ball. A glass rod at top of the balloon is twisted and the bottom is tapered. Then the balloon is placed in an annealing oven, where the temperature is slowly reduced to temper (or strengthen) the glass. 


“Once the balloon is cool, my wife Linda individually hand paints each balloon using special proprietary paints.” He said. “Then the balloons are placed in a kiln and heated to harden and bake the paint onto the glass. A handmade basket is attached to the bottom to complete the piece.”


- “The Gourmet Gal”

Balsamic and Honey Vinaigrette have now joined Deborah Mackey and Kaelyn Brennan’s original, Savory Sauce. This created the ultimate trio of multi purpose sauces. All of these sauces can be used on literally anything and the best part is you never need to refrigerate them and all three are gluten free.


- Erika M. Klein 

Film Strip Lampshades

Ms. Klein recalls, “It all started when I crafted a dress from film for a recycled fashion show. After creating a dress from movie trailer film I started playing with the leftover trailer reel filmstrips and light. What came from that are my lampshade line. What’s unique about these shades are when the lamp is off, the shade appears almost black. But when it’s lit you can actually see the film images. Each one I create is a one-of-a-kind.”


The Craft Marketplace provides a great way to embrace the philosophy of  “shopping small” on Small Business Saturday. Since 2010, when American Express developed it, Small Business Saturday is celebrated every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and is dedicated to supporting small businesses across the country. 


Wolpert noted “This as a beautiful opportunity to create a unique community experience kicking off the holiday shopping season, and of course, to promote downtown Saratoga Springs’ by encouraging Marketplace shoppers to also venture out onto Broadway to support our retail and restaurant community.”


For more information about Saturday’s Craft Marketplace, visit saratogacraft.org or the Saratoga Center for the Family Facebook page for ongoing posts promoting featured craft artisans: facebook.com/SaratogaCenter

Friday, 07 November 2014 10:00

The Pheenom!

At Seventeen, Alicia Bautista Is Ready 

By Arthur Gonick

Saratoga TODAY


SARATOGA SPRINGS – You are hereby invited to hear the future. 


A future from a person still so young that she had to be driven to this interview by her parents; from someone so young that she cannot even legally buy a drink at many of the establishments she plays. 


Tonight, if you stop in at Bailey’s Café, a young performer named Alicia Bautista will charm and delight you. She will be making her second “pro” gig in this city, but the Queensbury High School soon-to-be-salutatorian has compiled performance credits in the Warren County area that belie her age. 


Simply put, Alicia seems incredibly comfortable performing and transmitting that good cheer that audiences find engaging. Something that takes performers decades to perfect, if they ever get it at all.  


You can search for a reason why Alicia can perform at this high level and come up with many possibilities. Perhaps it’s because Alicia has an old soul; perhaps a by-product of some good grounding by parents Alex and Susan; perhaps it’s a spiritual nature that she makes a point of emphasizing. 


Perhaps it’s the result of losing her fear of performing at age four when she performed “Castle on the Cloud” from Les Miz at age four; combine that with classical, operatic and baroque vocal training from Meredith Reed at Glens Falls Music Academy since the fifth grade and you have a powerful combination. 


Perhaps it’s all these things together, with some other factors we are not supposed to define. 


“Because of these experiences,” Alicia says, “I never get nervous – I get excited. Nervousness comes to me only when I’m unprepared.”


But then she smiles and says: “But I’m always prepared,” and you believe her.  As you do when she confides that she always says a prayer before each performance. 


Playing at taverns and bars can constitute a different dynamic altogether. Sometimes the venue can be anything but a listening room. “When that happens, I just keep going. My goal is to get the audience to sing along with me, to make requests that I either know or can learn for next time…in some ways, I like paying for an audience that I don’t know. I relish the challenge of learning something outside my comfort zone… For me, my hook is a love song but basically it’s about what the audience wants to hear.”

She says. 


No rock star ego anywhere to be found, but quiet confidence and an understanding of what it takes to be successful. When you hear her say, “It’s all about spreading joy” you forget her age and see the seasoned performer.


With a repertoire of about forty tunes spread through the classics like Fleetwood Mac and Neil Young to the modern day, Alicia has enough in her arsenal to keep most people interested. She also has been getting serious her own song craft and has “three ready to record and two others that are in process” that are likely to be part of tonight’s song lineup. 


Nothing in this life is a slam-dunk and Alicia still has many miles to travel; many credits to acquire (not to mention juggling Pharmacy college with a second major in music), but it says here that she has a remarkable skill set; a presence that gives her an excellent chance to do more than survive, but thrive as a musician and performer and make people glad they came to see her for a long time to come. 


Close your eyes and hear the future. It sounds pretty sweet.



Friday, 07 November 2014 09:46

A New Home For Code Blue

Salvation Army Will Host Emergency Shelter


By Arthur Gonick

Saratoga TODAY


SARATOGA SPRINGS – As the city prepares for the holiday season, another set of preparations have been underway to assure that many who are not as fortunate as others will have some relief from winter’s icy chill. 


The result is that in 2014-15 the city’s Code Blue facility will have a new home –  The Salvation Army at 27 Woodlawn Avenue. Because of the building’s physical plant, combined with the ability to plan and routinize procedures, there should be several improvements to the delivery of services as a result. 


Mayor Joanne Yepsen was central in leading the initial effort in establishing a Code Blue facility. In announcing the new location officially, she stated:


“I am thrilled that Code Blue will be back for a second season, this time at the Salvation Army on Woodlawn Avenue.  I'm incredibly proud to be involved in this on-going partnership between non-profit organizations and our citizens to provide shelter to our homeless citizens during winter months. I can't thank all of my Code Blue partners, including the Salvation Army, enough. Their passion for helping others is inspiring and is what has made this effort so successful.”


Indeed, while this is a milestone, several critical needs are ongoing according to Saratoga Code Blue Coordinator Cheryl Ann Murphy, due to the nature of the task involved.


A readily apparent improvement is the increased length of the Code Blue Season, which will begin on Nov. 15 on those evenings where the temperature fall to 20 degrees (including wind chill) or 12 inches of snow are expected. 

Last winter, a Code Blue facility in Saratoga Springs was established for the first time right before Christmas Day - in response to the tragic death of Nancy Pitts on the streets of the city due to exposure. With little time to plan at the time, a remarkable and rapid response from many sectors of society was something to behold and be proud of. 


Another improvement is the existence of a Code Blue Coordinator from the beginning of the season. Ms. Murphy’s position was not established until near the end of the first Code Blue season. She outlined the changes that the move to Woodlawn will bring, as well as the ongoing needs.


“Because we will be at the Salvation Army this season,” Murphy said, “some logistical challenges will arise, but overall it’s a very good development. For one thing, the building is handicap accessible. Also, guests will have the opportunity to shower in the evening between 9 ­ 11 p.m.”


When Code Blue is activated, the shelter facility will open at 7 p.m. It will close at 8 a.m. Monday – Friday and 9 a.m. on weekends. The Salvation Army already has a breakfast program in place during the week and Code Blue volunteers will supplement this on weekend mornings. 


The actual notification procedures for activation of Code Blue involve weather forecasting and coordination in order to make sure that both guests and volunteers are notified in a timely manner. 


“We’ll be making announcements to volunteers through several sources,” Murphy said. “Announcements will be on our website (CodeBlueSaratoga.org), our Code Blue Facebook page and through email - people can sign up online to be added to an email tree.” 


For guests “we reach out placing signs will in the soup kitchen and library.” Murphy noted. “This year, we will begin a program where there be electric ‘candles’ with blue bulbs placed in several area businesses and public buildings that will be ‘lit’ (plugged in) when Code Blue is open.” Businesses that want to participate program in this can contact Murphy at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Volunteering procedures have been somewhat modified. “People will continue to sign up for shifts through the website.” Murphy said. “The basic shift has been lowered to three hours instead of four, although we are allowing people to register for a double shift if they wish.”


Access to training has been improved for 2014-15 as well. “For shift supervisors, like last year, training is mandatory.” Murphy said. “This year, training will be offered to all volunteers ­ they will have the opportunity to attend a training class. There will be an online orientation all volunteers will need to read before they are permitted to volunteer.


As always, there is an ongoing need for donations of all kinds, given that this is essentially a community effort with little if any endowment. 


It’s no surprise then when Ms. Murphy states “cash donations are always welcome. But there are plenty of other ways people can make contributions and donations.”


“Last Code Blue season, we got an excellent response from local restaurants, food purveyors and bakeries to help provide the evening meal for Code Blue guests,” Murphy said, “and thankfully they have all responded positively to helping us again.”


When asked what kind of hard goods that individuals could donate – food, clothing, etc. they were seeking, Cheryl had no trouble coming up with a good-sized list. 


“The needs do change all the time as we go through the season, but as of now some of our biggest needs are meal replacement supplements - items like Boost or Ensure, individually wrapped snacks, Slim Jims, new men’s and women’s underwear (all sizes), new men’s and women’s warm socks and gallon size Ziploc bags.” She said. 


With the new facility secured at the Salvation Army, at least for this year, Murphy is working on developing a donation drop off schedule that will be posted shortly on the website. But if you have something to donate, she would love to hear from you now. 


“Call me directly,” she said. “My number is (518) 812- 6886. We’ll make it happen.


For more information, visit CodeBlueSaratoga.org


SARATOGA SPRINGS— Award-winning graphic designer and author Chip Kidd will talk about the importance of visual communication when he lectures Thursday, Nov. 13, at Skidmore College. His talk, titled “! Or?:  Let me be perfectly clear. Or mysterious,” begins at 7:30 p.m. in Gannett Auditorium, Palamountain Hall. Admission is free and open to the public.


The talk is co-sponsored by Skidmore’s Visual Literacy Forum and Northshire Bookstore, which will host a book-signing session following the talk. 


Kidd writes and designs from several locations:  New York City; Stonington, Conn.; and Palm Beach, Fla.  He has worked for Alfred A. Knopf since 1986, designing book covers that have helped “create a revolution in the art of American book packaging,” according to his web site (www.chipkidd.com). His awards include the National Design Award for Communications, as well as the Use of Photography in Design Award from the International Center of Photography.


The author of two novels, The Cheese Monkeys and The Learners, Kidd is also the author of Batman:  Death by Design, an original graphic novel published by DC Comics and illustrated by Dave Taylor. Kidd has written several books about comics, including Peanuts:  The Art of Charles M. Schulz and Jack Cole and Plasticman (with Art Spiegelman).  In addition, Kidd is the co-author and designer of True Prep, the sequel to the Official Preppy Handbook.


Kidd’s 2012 TED talk, “Designing books is no laughing matter. Ok, it is” (http://www.ted.com/talks/chip_kidd_designing_books_is_no_laughing_matter_ok_it_is) has almost 1.3 million views to date. The TED web site calls it “one of the funniest talks from TED2012, in which Kidd shows the art and deep thought of his cover designs.”



Skidmore’s Visual Literacy Forum is under the auspices of Project VIS, an initiative to advance strategic, pedagogical, and liberal learning goals in visual literacy and communication. An Andrew Mellon Foundation grant supports the initiative.sara

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