June 9, 2013

First Weekend events in Plattsburgh

By Chris Fasolino

---- — PLATTSBURGH — First Weekend began with gray skies and defiantly cheerful crowds.

Street performances from musicians, preparations for a race and the beginnings of a Lego city were among the events adding color to downtown Plattsburgh on Saturday afternoon. First Weekend, a cooperative initiative to invigorate downtown Plattsburgh, also included attractions at the Strand Theatre and ROTA Gallery, as well as restaurants and shops.

The Lego project, the brainchild of 20-year-old Justin Collins, will become an exhibit at the Champlain Valley Transportation Museum and Kids’ Station. For the First Weekend events, Collins’s Lego model of Clinton County Airport was on display at City Hall Place, as part of an outdoor exhibit that the museum and Kids’ Station had set up for the occasion.

“I thought this would be a fun way to showcase the area’s transportation,” Collins said of the airport model, which is to become a focal point for a display featuring area transportation sites, as well as distinctive landmarks such as the Macdonough Monument. “I think looking at the display will be pretty surprising for people. They’ll be like, ‘I recognize that building!’ And it will be a great way to get kids excited about the museum.”

The plan is for a 4-foot-by-16-foot electrified display. Museum visitors will be able to push buttons to turn lights on and off and to activate moving parts such as airplane propellers and windmill blades. Collins and the Transportation Museum are hoping for donations of Legos to further the project.

As to how he came up with the idea, Collins said with a grin: “I don’t think I ever grew up.”

Saturday afternoon was also a time of preparation and motivation for the Biggest Loser Race/Walk scheduled for today. Three contestants from the television show addressed the crowd on Saturday: Jackie Evans, her son Dan Evans, and Tara Costa.

Costa described an epiphany she had when she found out she would be on “The Biggest Loser.” She said, “The second I got on the show I had to figure out: why am I doing this, and how am I going to make it sustainable?”

Costa stressed the important of progressive short-term goals leading to long-term ones.

Plattsburgh couple Brian and Cindy Rabideau were among those registering for the race.

“I lost 78 pounds and I’ve been maintaining for over a year,” said Cindy, a fan of the show. She said her husband had signed up for the half-marathon, and she had signed up for the 5K.

“I’ve been exercising for the last eight months on a regular basis, and thought I’d give it a try and see how it turns out,” added Brian.

Jewel Parelman, director of New Business Development and Biggest Loser spokesperson, said the event was meant to be “inspirational.” 

“We encourage all people to come out, from experienced runners to newbies. The purpose is to get people moving, happy and healthy.”

The sounds of local musicians performing outdoors were part of the First Weekend experience.

For George Wurster of Plattsburgh, that was especially personal. His son, Lowell, helped with organizing the events and was playing with some of his bandmates from the group “Lucid,” while his daughter Catie was playing bass as part of Punkahontas.

“I didn’t teach them to play, but my wife and I introduced them to a lot of different music,” Wurster said.

As for the First Weekend events, Wurster said: “I wish the weather was better, but I think it’s a nice festival. 

“It’s an opportunity for a lot of people to get downtown; actually, it brings them downtown.

“I hope it will grow.”