Opportunity Knocks… and Madison Rocks!

36th Anniversary Victorian Streetwalk: DBA Makes a Weekend Out of It

All Photos: Jill Perkins
A flawless performance by the “Madison-ettes” on Jingle Bells!
Emcee Steve Kuzj (L); Madison VanDenburg (R)

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Random thoughts and perspectives:

As one who has covered the majority, and attended all but only a few Victorian Streetwalk (VSW) events from the beginning (the exceptions being when I was living elsewhere for a couple of years,) you might suppose that I’m one of those that want everything to be the “same as it was” – forever – like some of the crabbing comments I read on social media. But I assure you that this is not the case.

First and foremost, we are lucky and should salute the organizers of this year’s VSW for the effort. Trust me, it would be A LOT easier to just “mail it in” – following the scripts of previous years like they had descended from Mt. Sinai along with the Commandments.

Instead, they tried some new things. We’ll see if they ended up working out when the Saratoga Springs Downtown Business Association does its post-event analysis; I suspect some things will stay, and some things will be ‘one-timers’ – for a variety of reasons.

But for those who think that nothing about VSW had ever changed before, let me remind you that for several years a big component of the event – the tree lighting and Santa’s arrival – happened the day before the event itself – on a Wednesday. Along the way, they must have determined that it was better to have the Wednesday festivities consolidated into Thursday to light the fuse and have a bigger bang for the event itself.

Many people forget, or weren’t around to see this big change occur – nor all of the other changes that a dynamic event must go through. Particularly an event like VSW – one that has received international acclaim (I clearly remember living in Nashville, TN ten years ago and seeing VSW footage on CNN,) to stay relevant and vital to new audiences.

Now, in 2022, change came in the form of extending VSW into a ‘weekend event’ – still having the big party on the Thursday following Thanksgiving, but adding limited activities the next three days. Again, we’ll see how that pans out. I am sure that it will take more time to analyze this as it ended just yesterday. Regardless of the outcome, there’s nothing wrong with trying something.

In short, change doesn’t always prove to be good, but the willingness to try to make a good thing even better -well, that is great. Kudos to the DBA in that regard.


Of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t touch upon the biggest change of all:

Yup. The big stage on Broadway and Caroline.

Now, on the assumption that this was not some “Lightning in a bottle” phenomenon (after all, we can’t count on getting an American Idol finalist hailing from this region every year,) if this is being contemplated as something for future events, there are a few things to consider:

  • First, when you put a “main stage” at an event, it stands to reason that the bulk of attendee activity will be clustered and centralized around it. As Jill’s photo shows, it clearly was packed in that vicinity. Even more so because Santa’s Cottage was directly across Broadway in the same zone. A quick jaunt outside the areas past Lake Ave. and Division St. showed traffic to be much lighter, as you would expect. Since the DBA’s membership extends all along Broadway and the side streets of Downtown, I think it’s fair to say that it will be challenging going forward to be attentive to the merchants at the Northern and Southern ends of Broadway at least.
  • Second, it has to be noted that this event took place on December 1st, and it was a blustery night with the winds whipping strongly. Let’s face it – there is a world of difference between walking on Broadway (e.g.: where you are moving your bones) and standing there watching a show in this weather – my estimate is that I lost my feet after 15 minutes; my knees at 25. If the DBA does this setup again (and nothing here says that they shouldn’t necessarily), a (supervised) warm up area with heaters would be a Godsend. Fortunately, MY warming station was the nearby Merc Restaurant – an oasis, litterally! I could duck in, warm up a bit, and – as long as I’m here, bartender…

But I digress – the big HOWEVER to the above gentle critique was what occurred on stage – which was completely world-class, A++. Though my feet were frosty, my heart was warmed by what I saw and heard.

First, you don’t appreciate the talent needed to be a professional Emcee until you see one in action, and that’s what Steve Kuzj brought to the table. Who found this guy?

And believe the hype – Madison VanDenburg radiated charm and star power by the truckload, and the proof to me was twofold: 1) when she performed her own original songs, that showed she was much, much more than just a voice, and 2) when she was joined on stage by several very young children (the “Madison-ettes”?) for a rousing rendition of Jingle Bells – I thought about people I know who were the key founders of this event – in particular Martha Margolis and Susan Farnsworth, whose lives took them to Florida and Israel, respectively – and how proud, and happy they would be if they could see this.

Ya done good back then, ladies – and Ya done good tonight DBA!


It’s Elephant in the Room time – and I’m just going to say that for the sake of this event’s future success, along with the organizers’, and that of the general citizenry – IT WOULD BE A VERY GOOD IDEA IF WE DON’T HAVE A SHOOTOUT ON BROADWAY THE WEEK BEFORE THE EVENT – OR ANYTIME, FOR THAT MATTER!!!!

OK? Let’s all work on that. Please.


Finally, though I love taking photos, it is a blessing to have a colleague like Jill Perkins to handle that end of things, which frees me up to absorb, and think about what I’m absorbing.

Bottom line: if you don’t like what I wrote here – blame her! LOL – but at least enjoy her gallery.

Arthur Gonick – December 5, 2022

Gallery: 36th Anniversary Victorian Streetwalk

2 Replies to “Opportunity Knocks… and Madison Rocks!”

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