Looking Ahead to Niska Day

PETER R. BARBER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER
Members of the Ferrara Dancers perform in the Niska-Day Parade along Nott Street in Niskayuna last year.PETER R. BARBER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER Members of the Ferrara Dancers perform in the Niska-Day Parade along Nott Street in Niskayuna last year.

By INDIANA NASH

Gazette Reporter

NISKAYUNA- The 35 Niska-Day, the largest celebration seen in town all year, will take place on May 21, ‘rain, shine, or wind’ according to Bill and Denise Leader of the Niska-Day committee.

The couple has been on the planning committee for Niska-Day for the past twenty-five years and this year will be their twenty-first year of heading the committee. “Every year we pull off the event with only four meetings and I have to say, this group is the best volunteer group I’ve worked with,” said Denise.

Starting in January, the committee decides the theme and then divides responsibilities within the first meeting. There are twenty-five people on the committee who plan and organize the entire event.

“We’re looking now for more community involvement because we’ve been struggling to involve the younger generation,” said Bill Leader. Niska-Day hosts around 5,000 people each year and due to the sheer number, many volunteers are needed each year to organize everything.

This year, Niska-Day has a Fiesta theme, which encompasses the spirit of the celebration, said Denise, “It’s easier to get people involved if the theme is fun.”

The 1.7 mile parade will start at 10 a.m. and will feature around 1,000 participants, from local schools, youth groups, and sports teams. There will also be a contest featuring three cash prizes for the best floats, with the judges table located at the Co-Op.

Back at Craig elementary, where the majority of the celebrations will be held, there will be a near-constant stream of entertainers throughout the day. The Magnet Man will take photos of groups and print them out on magnets. Phil Singer will be drawing caricatures from noon until 5:00 p.m. Other entertainers include: Sparkles the Clown, Merdwin the Mediocre, JoJo’s Fabulous Faces, and Alex Torres and his Latin Orchestra.

For those who don’t wish to be entertained as to entertain themselves, there will be games and rock wall climbing.

The day will end with a fireworks show by the Town of Niskayuna, beginning promptly at 9:15 p.m.

One of the best parts of the day? Most of it is free.

“The biggest misconception people have of Niska-Day is who pays for it. N-CAP actually pays for most of the day,” said Denise.

Participants only need pay for their food, carnival rides, and crafts or other products at the Information/Business/Craft tent.

Niska-Day is held no matter what the weather. “People will come. We persevere in all kinds of weather,”  said Denise.