A mini-replica of an event that was popular in Saratoga in the late 1880s and early 1900s, the Floral Fete Promenade will be led by philanthropist and Saratoga 150 honorary co-chair Marylou Whitney, who in 1983 chose the Floral Fete for the theme of her annual racing season ball. Joining her, will be her husband John Hendrickson, actress Susan Lucci and her husband, Helmut Huber.
The parade will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the corner of Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney Highway (Route 50), continue down Broadway and converge on Congress Park, where entertainment, carousel rides and a free Ice Cream Social, hosted by Marylou and John, will take place beginning at 8 p.m.
“What better way to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Saratoga Race Course than with colorful flowers, beautiful carriages and a wonderful party,” said Marylou, noting that the festivities will take place on the eve of the 86th running of the Grade 1 Whitney Invitational Handicap, named in recognition of the Whitney family’s long-standing contribution to thoroughbred racing.
The Ice Cream Social will feature five flavors of free hand-dipped Stewart’s Ice Cream, Saratoga Water, and Freihofer’s chocolate chip cookies, while supplies last. Headlining the entertainment will be Skip Parson’s Riverboat Jazz Band, the Music Studio Kids and Saratoga Sound Track, with strolling entertainers to include magic, clowns and additional musicians. Adding to the “Olde Tyme” atmosphere will be period-costumed women from the Victorian Social Club and Saratoga High School’s America Helping America Club with the crowd.
As it would not be a party without cake, a birthday cake will be cut and the crowd invited to sing “Happy Birthday” in honor of the occasion.
Kicking off the evening’s festivities will be the Promenade, with the lead carriage bedecked with more than 500 pink roses to represent the Marylou Whitney Rose, a hybrid tea rose Hendrickson commissioned. The remaining carriages will showcase New York-grown flowers of various colors and varieties.
The historic carriages will be joined at Walton Street by 100 non-motorized vehicles decorated by residents of Saratoga County. The Saratoga Auto Museum is gathering more than a dozen antique vehicles for the parade, including a 1901 Buick that is a replica of a vehicle owned by William C. Whitney, and following them will be floats decorated with flowers grown by the New York Flower Power Association.
The bicycles, wagons, baby carriages and wheeled contraptions will be judged for cash prizes in different categories and there will be a $1,000 “most creative” award.