I was over at my parents’ house in Saratoga Springs for lunch the other day, when they told me this rather odd story: They had been minding their own business one evening, when a fire truck came careening down their narrow, residential street, lights going, sirens blaring. Being of a certain age, they immediately assumed someone was in trouble—or worse yet, there was a fire to put out at a neighbor’s house.
Thankfully, I knew what all the commotion was about and put their minds at ease: It was just Santa Claus, I said, making one of several upcoming “test runs” to neighborhoods across the Spa City in his new and improved, COVID-safe “sleigh.” (After all, I’d read his press release from the North Pole.)
As an alternative to in-person visits from Santa Claus at his cottage on Broadway, the Saratoga Springs Downtown Business Association (DBA) and Stewart’s Shops have teamed up to help Santa travel all over the city, making six runs in total prior to Christmas. His “sleigh” is actually a Tower Ladder fire truck, which has been provided by King Enterprises. And though Santa’s cottage on Broadway is up, just like most years, it won’t be open for business, due to the pandemic. Local children, however, are still being asked to bring letters to Santa to be deposited in his mailbox out front.
Santa’s first major trip last week was the culmination of a special virtual tree-lighting ceremony, which was live-streamed on Facebook on December 3. The tree, a 19-foot White Spruce tree located just outside of Putnam Market, is very much real, and is out there for masked, socially distanced passers by to gawk at all holiday season long. (You can’t miss it; it’s right next to Santa’s mailbox and cottage.)
These holiday celebrations and traditions are all part of the 2020 Victorian Streetscapes initiative, which is being spearheaded the Saratoga DBA, who traditionally presents the Victorian Streetwalk in collaboration with Discover Saratoga. Because this year’s streetwalk was canceled, it, along with all of its requisite fanfare, has been reimagined as a COVID-safe, monthlong celebration downtown. “The DBA is excited to collaborate with our partners to add the festive element for all to enjoy during this holiday season,” says Deann Devitt, president of the Saratoga DBA. “It has been a challenging year for our local businesses, but the outpouring of support from the community has been remarkable. This extra holiday cheer is a thank you for that support and serves as a reminder that Downtown Saratoga Springs, is, in fact, a destination worth visiting.”
Adds Darryl Leggieri, president of Discover Saratoga: “With all of the uncertainty around us, our goal was to turn Downtown Saratoga Springs into a festive respite to shop and dine safely. We hope that this will give one more reason for folks to come downtown throughout the season to take in the holiday atmosphere and of course, shop local.”
Below, find Santa’s full schedule of stops in and around Saratoga, as well as links to each live stream page, if you happen to be quarantining or just not a fan of the cold:
West Side of Saratoga, December 12, 3pm (view virtually here)
Woodlands and Meadowbrook area of Saratoga, December 16, 6pm (view here)
Eastside of Saratoga, December 19, 3pm (view here)
Southside, Jefferson Street and Union Avenue in Saratoga, December 23, 2pm (view here)
For more on the Victorian Streetscapes series, click here.