End of year cheer

End of year revelers will have their pick of festivals in the Capital District this year.

Saratoga Springs will host its 13th annual First Night celebration just a few days after their neighbors down the Northway host the second Albany WinterFestival.

The events offer something for singles, couples and families, say coordinators, but are different enough to warrant going to both.

People are starting to recognize that our event is a different one from First Night, said Melli Rose, public relations coordinator for the City of Albany. Albany's last First Night was in 2005; WinterFestival started in 2006, geared toward children and families.

In its inaugural year, WinterFestival's approximate 10,000 in attendance topped the crowd gathered for the last Albany First Night, said Rose.

A pass or button isn't required and most events are free.

Held on Saturday, Dec. 29, WinterFestival kicks off at 11:30 a.m. with the "Jingle Jog" Fun Run for children ages 5 to 11. Each child receives a goody bag filled with great surprises, plus an official race T-shirt, said Rose. Registration is $3 per child. Refreshments and a drawing for prizes follow.

Beginning at 1 p.m., the streets will come alive with magic, music and performers. Vaudevillian performers The Flying Karamazov Brothers will headline at the Palace Theatre.

The professional BMX riders of FreeCycle Action Sports Team and America's Best Frisbee Dogs will perform on Lodge Street. Albany City Hall will host the beginnings of a scavenger hunt. Amusement games, pony rides, a rock-climbing wall and a giant bonfire will await visitors in Academy Park.

At 5:15 pm., there will be fireworks on the east lawn of the state Capitol.

The 11th annual "Last Run" 5K Road Race kicks off with an anticipated 1,000 runners. The U.S. Track and Field certified route heads up State Street through Capital Holiday Lights in Washington Park. The registration fee is $20. Runners are encouraged to register at www.active.com to reserve a spot in the race.

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