Ballston Town Historian Rick Reynolds has seen his share of town birthday celebrations. But this summer will a special landmark, the 225th birthday of Ballston. And Reynolds wants to throw a party to suit.
To put it together, Reynolds has assembled a committee of residents, professionals, media and just about anyone willing to volunteer their time and services and be a part of the celebration. The group met for the first time Wednesday, Jan. 30.
The committee currently consists of Joyce Boice, Rosemary Carney, Laura Conrad, Meagan Frantz, Cheryll Hill, Tricia Letendre, Lori Liebert, Eileen Lofthouse, Angela McFarland, Steve and Gail Merchant, Charlie and Pat Merriam, Rick Reynolds, Charles Roberts, Muriel Swatling and Polly Windels
Other interested parties at the first meeting included Pete Bardunas, Al Haenel, Paul Hill, John McIntyre, Joan Pott and Lynette Ziskin.
Reynolds brought the committee up to date by reviewing the history of the Town of Ballston, and talking about past celebrations that he felt “have all led up to this one.”
“The town’s 225 years is certainly worth celebrating,” said Reynolds.
Reynolds has two other recent celebrations under his belt. In 2009, a celebration of Ballston Lake was held, and in 2011, one was held for Burnt Hills.
“These were both successful events and all have led up to this one,” said Reynolds.
Reynolds said the idea for the celebration is to create a draw. His first suggestion is for a game of 1850s baseball, the rules of which are far different from modern baseball rules. The game is played in a square and with one out per inning, no balls or strikes and no bases, just stakes.
Reynolds said the olden form of baseball was chosen so as to not reinforce the myth that famous Ballston resident Abner Doubleday was the inventor of modern baseball.
“1850s baseball is a very fascinating game,” he said. “The kids have done it before and had a ball.”
Besides the baseball game, Reynolds also pitched what he termed “a grand idea.” He hopes to get a town-wide photo.
“That would be absolutely phenomenal if we can pull it off,” said Reynolds. “From a historian’s point of view, it is a chance to record history. As I often like to say, history is not about the past, it’s about the present.”
After Reynolds’ initial suggestions, the ideas flew from the committee, but all followed the suggested consideration of focusing on events that would draw the largest number of people to create a diverse event.
Among the suggestions: Burnt Hills and Ballston Spa community bands, reenactments, agricultural exhibits or tractors, family events, events centering around Ballston Lake, local artists and artisans, a road rally and a car decorating contest.
Different venues were discussed, including Town Hall, Ellms, Brookside Museum, the Presbyterian Church, Lakeside, FoCastle and Curtis Lumber. The committee also considered whether the celebration should be a one, two or multi-day event.
With so many ideas being floated, Polly Windells suggested the need for cohesiveness.
“Each age group has different preferences,” she said. “We need to get the community vested into things that are taking place. Each group should have a reason to come here.”
To that end, the committee decided to settle on four focal points to build on: agriculture, family life in Ballston, history and artists.
In order to make the event successful, Spotlight Newspapers Published John McIntyre suggested the event needs to have a name and date before being promoted.
“With a name comes electronic communication,” he said.
The committee settled on “Ballston.225” and a tag line of “we are… because of what we were.”
McIntyre also said media and business involvement will be keys to the event’s success.
“You need to get businesses involved,” he said. “There is a history of family businesses in this town.”
Angela MacFarland, publisher of The Ballston Journal, took that a step further by offering her online publication as a way to help publicize the event and create a website from which all media could grab content.
Reynolds was quick to point out that her suggestion does not in any way exclude other publications.
The committee settled on July 13 as the first choice for an event and July 27 as an alternative. The committee will settle on a final date after they make sure there are no conflicts.
The committee will meet again on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at Ballston Town Hall.
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