Newspapers capture history in the making. If they bear witness to it long enough, they eventually become part of the fabric of that history. Over the past several decades, thanks to the dedication and skill of our staff photographer Lauren Thomas, the New Paltz Times has amassed a visual chronicle of community events that happen year after year, the places where they occur, the people who bring them into being. Once each month, we plan to take a deep dive into our extensive visual archives and piece together a longitudinal portrait of aspects of our community that have persisted or recurred regularly over time. Our readers will be able to see what has changed and what has not. Nostalgia for our shared past, confidence in what endures, hope for our future are all aspects of what we hope to find, exploring together. And now, the story behind Gardiner Day, captured in pictures.
Gardiner Day, the annual free celebration of “Family, Friends & Fun” in the Gardiner hamlet, is coming back for the 30th time this year, on Saturday, September 7 from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. No longer does the event need to be marketed as a “block party,” as it was in 2018, “because they took the Pavilion down and we had no place to store the food,” says Gardiner Day Committee organizer Jaynie Marie Aristeo. “What’s going to be different this year is that it’s going to incorporate Majestic Park again.”
Tents will be set up and activities, including live music performances, organized at three main locations: George Majestic Memorial Park, Station Square and Town Hall. Parking will primarily be at Majestic Park, with a free hayride-style shuttle providing transport around the loop of sites for the festivities. Admission to everything is free of charge, although food, beverages and crafts will be available for sale.
New this year is an informal sort of vintage and custom car rally, involving no registration, fees or trophies — although participants are encouraged to check in ahead of the festival date with Aristeo at (845) 389-1849 for instructions. “They should be there by 10,” she notes, since the park gates will be closed to auto traffic at 11 a.m. Owners (especially Gardiner residents) of classic cars, antique vehicles and hot rods are encouraged to show off their vintage wheels alongside the fence at Majestic Park.
Now that the rickety old Pavilion has been replaced with a sturdy new one, food vendors will be back at that site, along with picnic tables and seating. In the Gazebo, New Paltz Rock’s various youth bands will be providing music all day long. The basketball court will host the booths of Stone Wave Yoga, New Paltz Karate and Fighting Spirit Karate and the Take the Leap dancers, all of whom will give demonstrations on that site at various times during the day. Stone Wave will also be offering free face-painting for kids. At the skate park, the Majestic Sk8 Crü will be giving skateboard demos. And a mural will be painted on the wall at the handball court.
There will be plenty going on at Town Hall as well, even if it isn’t the center of the action as it was last year. The big draw will be the live entertainment on the bandstand from 1 to 4 p.m.: Dylan Doyle of Milton, whom Aristeo describes as an “up-and-coming amazing guitarist.” The Gardiner Fire Department will have its trucks out of their bays for little ones to admire, while the Ulster County Sheriff’s Department and the State Police will host exhibits, provide IDs for kids and conduct a K-9 demonstration. Plenty of food vendors will be on hand. And the ever-popular Children’s Tent will be set up alongside Town Hall, featuring arts-and-crafts activities (rumor has it that sand art will be back), free face-painting, Tipsy Turtle henna tattoos and a small petting zoo. A bouncy castle will be set up, thanks to sponsorship from Walden Savings Bank.
The third primary location for Gardiner Day festivities is Station Square, located in the middle section of Main Street. Guitarists Matt Booth and Ethan Levy will take turns performing on the small stage. Clustered around the square will be many crafts vendors, plus booths for a variety of local businesses and organizations — and of course, food vendors. Behind Station Square, at the Gardiner Library, the annual Book Walk will be back, featuring a “free book at the end” for every kid who completes the reading-and-walking challenge.
“Many businesses on Main Street will also be participating,” Aristeo reminds us. “They’ll have specials going on, and displays right out on the sidewalk.
Gardiner Day is envisioned as a gift from the community to the community, with most of the funding raised by a variety of year-round events: Ladies’ Night Out, the Easter Plant Sale, the Lasagna Dinner, the Gardiner Day Tree Lighting and Caroling, the Veterans’ Breakfast and the
Pumpkin Walk. However, says Aristeo, this year the committee is “in desperate need of volunteers” to attend to a wide variety of Gardiner Day duties: parking lot attendants, crossing guards, runners and so on. To volunteer, call or text (845) 240-5762. To learn more about the event, visit www.facebook.com/gardiner-day-new-york-162022735751.