Page 31

Week of November 14 – November 20, 2014

31 PULSE

Santa’s Playland Open House

a light snowfall to highlight the displays. Heated tents and fire pits will be set up to warm cold fingers and toes. The event is free and open to the entire community. Carrie Rowlands Johnson is a freelance writer/blogger. She was previously a reporter for FOX 23 News in Albany. You can read more of her work at http:// carowlands.wix.com/carrie-rowlands-j Photos Provided

by Carrie A Johnson for Saratoga TODAY Santa sits on his sleigh, holding the reins of his flying reindeer as they soar through the night sky—its darkness split by thousands of twinkling colorful lights. The bearded man is hauling a bagful of toys and delivering the message, “Merry Christmas,” spelled out in lights. I shift my eyes to the side and they wander over a massive American Flag. It is lit in red, white and blue and partnered with the twinkling message, “God Bless the USA.” I am standing on the ground while a mechanical crane holds a man close to an evergreen tree. I gaze up and watch as his hands wind a string of colorful lights, adorning the branches. To his left, dozens more of the tiny orbs gather together to create letters that form the words, “Quick Response.” He and twenty Quick Response employees spend about a month during the fall making sure every light bulb on every display is working. Tonight, he is fine tuning the light show. On Thanksgiving night, at 5 p.m., nearly 70 festive displays will light the sky above Quick Response

in Clifton Park. They’ll stay lit through the holidays, decorating the grounds for weekends of free holiday activities that will culminate in a huge open house called “Santa’s Playland Open House,” the second weekend in December. During the Open House weekend, visitors will be bussed from one of two parking lots into a holiday wonderland. They will board one of three wagons, pulled by majestic Clydesdales, through the magnificent displays of lights: a

stocking of toys, elves with wrapped gifts, candy canes, and the largest, a 150-foot long candy factory. Passengers truly will be transported through Santa’s Playland as they hop on board “The Quick Express” for a ride through lit scenery and tunnels. Visitors are welcome to have their photos taken with Santa, enjoy carnival rides, snack on hot chocolate, cookies, and popcorn, and visit with cartoon characters like Scooby Doo, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph, The Cat in the Hat, Tigger and Winnie the Pooh. Quick Response is a company that specializes in emergency fire and water clean ups and restoration with a promised one-hour response time. They don’t charge a dime for any part of the Holiday Open House, taking care of every last detail without the help of donations. “It’s a good way to give back to the community for all the business we get from them,” says General Manager Bob Serafini. He won’t disclose the amount of money he generously spends on the festivities. The event started 14years ago and has grown bigger with each passing year, now a staple on the calendar for thousands of families during the holiday season. Owner Vince Laurenzo loves watching the faces of the kids when they walk in. “The kids just go. They love it. When you see a kid stand in line for a half hour to forty five minutes and not complain, it’s a good night.” You can stop by and walk through the displays starting Thanksgiving night. That weekend and the following, the rides and trains will be running and offering free rides to everyone who stops. December 6 is “Hometown Hero” night, when local firefighters and police officers are invited to bring their families for a special evening. The Open House is December 12 and 13 from 5:30-9 p.m. The lights will be on through New Year’s Day. Serafini is hoping Mother Nature will add her own touch, with

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