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Village of Ballston Spa celebrates 200 years

Against the backdrop of historic buildings draped with patriotic banners and sashes, families celebrated the 200th anniversary of Ballston Spa with present-day entertainment including rock bands, face painting and barbecued spareribs.

Saturday's Bicentennial Block Party brought hundreds to downtown Ballston Spa, where Front Street was closed to vehicle traffic from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

A large stage and amplifying system near Milton Avenue served as the alternative rock music site, strains of country music drifted from the Old Iron Spring Park, and smack in the middle, the Union Fire Company Band belted out marching music in front of the Village Clerk's Office.

Animals were the attraction in Wiswall Park, with free pony rides (and helmets), a petting zoo with sheep and lambs, and bunnies ready to doze on the laps of children.

This is my favorite part, petting the rabbits, said Sage Smith, 5, holding what appeared to be an earless bunny.

In the pavilion at Wiswall Park, a line formed for kids to have rainbows, hearts and Spiderman characters painted on their faces.

Along Front Street, vendors sold burgers and soda to the strolling crowds. A juggler showed kids the tricks behind mastering the art of spinning a Frisbee on a stick, and a stilt walker told jokes from his 8-foot perch.

Village historian Chris Morley, dressed in old-fashioned garb, handed out historic papers and displayed an 1840s map of the village he pieced together.

"This was a real labor of love," said Morley, indicating the large framed map.

"But everyone likes to stop and see where the land was they now live on. This is way before the homes were built."

At Brookside Museum, a display of posters depicting periods of history done by local students showed many affiliate local history with Abraham Lincoln. There was a display of newly designed square bottom paper bags originated by George West at his mill complex in Ballston Spa.

Proving the village is indeed, as its moniker states, "a village of friends," people in the crowd were repeatedly bumping into friends and neighbors.

"This is what characterizes Ballston Spa, the small-town flavor," said Mayor John Romano. "We've worked very hard to preserve this atmosphere."

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