What I love most about the holiday season in Saratoga Springs is the unexpected spirit of giving, cheer and decoration. It was in the winter of 2006—my family’s first holiday season in Saratoga—that this became evident. As I walked toward Broadway from our small downtown apartment one evening in December, my little boys in tow, their matching red winter hats, navy coats, mittens and boots keeping their small bodies warm, the sweet hum of caroling filled the otherwise quiet night. As if walking into what seemed to be a Norman Rockwell painting, we joined a crowd gathered in front of City Hall, singing and drinking hot cocoa offered from a large pot, its steam drifting into the night.
A Salvation Army volunteer stood on the corner ringing her bell, and I watched as each passerby tossed money into the kettle. Across the street, the grand, iconic wreath hung on the Adirondack Trust Company’s façade, lit by strings of twinkling white Christmas lights. Each storefront window told its own holiday story with decorated trees, gingerbread houses, coveted toys and glistening ornaments. A soft white snow began to fall as we walked past front porches aglow with lights, fresh wreaths hanging on their doors, as if to say, “Come in friends, celebrate with us.”
Although the crowds and revelry of the summer months die down considerably in the winter, there is a different sort of bustle around the holidays—one marked by joy and merriment, giving an even more special feeling to the city. From the Victorian StreetWalk and the arrival of Santa Claus and his reindeer to his house (which magically returns every winter to Broadway) to the charitable Festival Of Trees, tree-lighting ceremony, and, of course, the epic First Night celebration, the wonderment of Saratoga at holiday time is just as magical to my family now, more than a dozen years later, as it was that very first season.
Saratoga’s winter season is marked by fancy charity galas and sparkling lights everywhere you look—and even on the coldest, snowiest nights, you’ll be sure to find a mug of hot cocoa, families taking in Broadway’s magic and a community that decorates and celebrates together.
Holiday magic is alive and well in Saratoga—aren’t we the lucky ones?