Noel Long remembers an unusual question Vincent Laurenzo posed to her when she was interviewing for a job at Quick Response Restoration.
Laurenzo wanted to know how Long felt about Christmas.
She loved the holiday, she told him. After all, My name is Noel!
That's fitting, because over the past several years, Quick Response Restoration has become synonymous with Christmas. The Round Lake business " on Route 9 just north of Clifton Park " hosts a huge Christmas celebration every year, complete with massive light displays, live reindeer, costumed characters, visits from Santa and train rides. What's more, it's all free.
At first glance, it might seem like an odd pairing. Quick Response provides disaster recovery and restoration services. Its Web site touts "state-of-the-art equipment, including ozone machines, ultrasonic machines and thermal foggers."
But Laurenzo has always loved Christmas and he wanted to do something to give back to a community that embraced Quick Response. So, in 2001, he hosted Quick Response's first Santa's Playland Open House.
"It's a nice way to connect with people," Long, the company's in-house attorney, said.
That first event wasn't huge, she said. There were some light displays and refreshments. But so many people turned out that Laurenzo decided to make it bigger the next year, something he's done each year since.
"All of the workers take part in one way or another," Long said, noting that the costumed characters walking the grounds are Quick Response employees.
This year, Laurenzo brought in five 50-foot tall trees, Long said. He also has a fleet of 12 heated buses on hand to bring people to and from parking lots in the area, since the display has gotten so big that there isn't ample parking available at Quick Response.
The one thing that has remained a constant throughout the years is the fact there's no admission fee.