When horses took to the track for the first time in Saratoga Springs, President Lincoln had only given his Gettysburg Address a month prior. On Tuesday morning, community leaders outlined their plans to celebrate that historic 150th anniversary. YNN's Matt Hunter filed the following report.
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- In the city's early years, Saratoga Springs was known just as much for its famed hotels as it was its horse races.
First opened in 1870, the Saratoga Arms Hotel is one of the few standing relics from that bygone era.
"We really are the ambassadors of what ‘Old Time Saratoga’ is, in an environment that's special," said general manager Amy Smith, whose parents purchased and restored the hotel in 1998.
This summer, as the community celebrates the 150th anniversary of horse racing in the Spa City, it's century-old stalwarts like Saratoga Arms that will be proudly on display.
"You only turn 150 once and I think this has been an unprecedented effort by many, many, many community leaders and different organizations across the county," Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Shimkus said.
On Tuesday morning, Saratoga 150 organizers detailed plans for the four-monthlong celebration. With private donors kicking in nearly $400,000, more than 200 events will mark the historic occasion.
"It will be nice for the community at large and economically it will assist the community. There's no question about that," Saratoga 150 Committee Chairman Joe Dalton said.
Annually, the six-week racing meet pumps about $200 million into the local economy. Many expect that number to be even higher this summer.
"We're seeing some wonderful advanced bookings,” Smith said. “People are talking about it over the phone about Saratoga 150."
"We've been at trade shows talking it up to people, and people ask once. They hear where you're from, 'Oh God, isn't there some big thing going on there?’" Impressions of Saratoga owner Marianne Barker said.
Impressions is one of several Broadway boutiques already selling special Saratoga 150 merchandise.
With the celebration's formal kickoff just weeks away, community members are eager to unite the city's bright future with its great past.
"I think it's going to be a really fun summer,” Barker said. “We're all looking forward to being really busy, which we can all use."
"When we see something that is a wonderful boon to our area, it's amazing how people come together," Smith said.
For more information on scheduled events, visit the official Saratoga 150 website.