The tiered seats of the Shepard Park Amphitheatre, the sloping grounds surrounding those seats, the entire upper portion of the park and the Village sidewalks were filled last night with a crowd whose size easily rivaled that of the busiest summer weekend in Lake George Village. The 20th Annual Lite Up The Village celebration kicked off yesterday at 4 p.m. From the stage, Village of Lake George Mayor Robert Blais surveyed the audience, noting that each year the event has attracted larger and larger crowds, evidence that Lake George is a popular destination no matter the season.
Ventriloquist Steve Charney opened the live entertainment with a comedy routine that had dozens of children, and many adults, giggling in their seats. Charney was followed by The Zucchini Brothers who led a sing-along of pop holiday tunes and favorites from their own extensive catalog of children’s songs.
Between entertainers, Marine Corps Memorial Detachment No. 2 Commandant Jonathan Muhl and Adjutant Lyn Stanton presented Robert Merchant, owner of the Backstreet BBQ, with a commendation for his “conspicuous service” helping the Corps collect toys for their Toys For Girls and Boys initiative. The Backstreet BBQ is an official toy drop-off location for the Marines’ program.
Merchant is hosting a Christmas party on Dec. 2 at his 75 Dieskau Street restaurant. The cost of admission is one unwrapped toy to be donated to the Tri-County Marines program. When selecting a gift to donate, Heather, a member of the Backstreet BBQ family, suggests shoppers consider gifts appropriate for teenagers as well as toys for young children. Grooming items and “stuff that smells good” are welcome gifts for the older beneficiaries of the Toys for Girls and Boys program. The Backstreet BBQ Christmas party begins at 2 p.m.
The main attraction came shortly after 6 p.m. with a countdown and the flick of a switch to illuminate the 30,000-plus lights strung throughout the park. A large fireworks display followed, after which, the crowd moved up to Canada Street to watch the lighted fire truck parade that escorted Santa into town.
This is the second year the Lake George Volunteer Fire Department has hosted a lighted fire truck parade at Lite Up The Village. Units from Bay Ridge, Queensbury Central, West Glens Falls, South Queensbury, Pottersville, Cambridge, Horicon and Lake George participated this year. The companies were competing for the Best Decorated prize as judged by members of the Village Board of Trustees. Each fire company draped their engines with lights and holiday decorations and many were led or followed by marchers dressed as Christmas trees, wrapped presents and Whos down in Whoosville. Bay Ridge Volunteer Fire Company took home this year’s $500 first prize and trophy.
The final engine in the parade carried Santa in his sleigh. Santa Claus was delivered to the Lake George Firehouse where several hundred children lined up for a visit. Inside the firehouse garage, the Lake George Community Band performed a concert of holiday tunes.
The Lite Up The Village celebration also marked the launch of the Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce & CVB’s Holiday Passport promotion. Chamber Executive Director Gina Mintzer and Marketing Director Amada May Metzger were in the park handing out Holiday Passports. Shoppers that visit participating businesses Nov. 25 through Dec. 10 may collect stamps on their passports and enter prize drawings by leaving completed passports at the Chamber office. Holiday Passports and instructions for participating in the promotion may be downloaded from the Chamber Website.
The event also featured pony rides, bounce houses and fire pits. The Sacred Heart Church Columbiettes sold hot chocolate and cookies to raise funds for their scholarship awards and next to the park in the Old County Courthouse, the Lake George Historical Association served up cider and doughnuts at an open house, their final event of the year.