BALLSTON SPA: Party ends with a parade

Every fire truck, marching band, fife and drum corps, horse-drawn buggy, Boy Scout troop, veteran's organization, driver with a vintage car, dance and karate class, and town board from within a two dozen mile radius of Ballston Spa showed up to parade down Milton Avenue Saturday morning, Aug. 18.

The grand finale of several months of celebration of the village's 200th anniversary, the parade to end all parades kicked off around noon. But as early as 10 a.m. Saturday, local families began to crowd the curbs along the village's downtown business district for the best viewing spot.

We've been waiting for this all summer, said Peg Sherman of Milton, with her husband, Richard. "I'm taking pictures for a photo album to give my grandchildren."

The Shermans were hunkered down with folding chairs, coffee, binoculars and a cell phone to give a play-by-play to friends not living in town.

Parade organizers had worried humid temperatures could wilt some of the 1950s costumes " including top hats, hoop skirts and parasols. But when the sun dipped behind the clouds, a cool chill blew down Milton Avenue, and well-prepared spectators huddled beneath fleece blankets. The Coffee Planet, sitting at the heart of the parade, had long lines snaking out the front door as people waited for hot tea and cinnamon scones.

A sign of the recent times: several entrepreneurs filled shopping carts with pink and blue plastic horns, confetti poppers and balloons shaped like cartoon characters to sell to the crowd for about $6 apiece. Most of the balloons remained fastened to the carts at the end of the parade, although a few were bought and sent skyward in the wind.

At noon, Route 50 and side streets were closed to traffic, and a very low flyover by a jet from Stratton Air Force base in Scotia signaled the start of the official bicentennial parade.

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