SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) will pay tribute to the nation’s service members and veterans during Military Appreciation Day at Saratoga Race Course on Wednesday, September 2.
The day will feature free grandstand admission for all United States military service members and veterans with valid military ID or proof of military service. Additionally, NYRA will welcome local service members and veterans to present the trophy for each race throughout the afternoon.
“The New York Racing Association is honored to recognize the service and sacrifice of the men and women of the United States military,” said NYRA CEO and President Chris Kay. “We look forward to hosting our service members and veterans at the Saratoga Race Course with a day dedicated in their honor.”
Singers with Saratoga Soundtrack will greet guests with patriotic songs as they arrive at the Union Avenue entrances beginning at 11:30 a.m.
NYRA will pay tribute to its service member and veteran employees with a special ceremony in the winner’s circle during the National Anthem, which will be performed by Sergeant Mary Kay Messenger of the West Point United States Military Academy Master at 11:30 a.m. The National Anthem will be accompanied by a Presentation of Colors from members of the NSA Saratoga.
Cadet Messenger will return to the winner’s circle to perform God Bless America during the afternoon.
Veterans of World War II and the Korean War will be recognized in the winner’s circle following the day’s second race, named in honor of Military Appreciation Day. The ceremony will commemorate the 70th anniversary of VJ Day, which occurred on August 15, 1945 marking the end of World War II. The veterans are beneficiaries of the Leatherstocking Honor Flight, which transports American veterans to Washington D.C. to visit national memorials dedicated to honoring their service and sacrifices.
Artwork created by veterans participating in the fine arts program of the Veterans Services Project at Living Resources will be on display at the Saratoga Pavilion from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The program provides local military veterans who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and/or traumatic brain injuries with an outlet to express their emotions as they transition to civilian life. The artist veterans will also gather in the winner’s circle to present the trophy for the day’s third race at approximately 2:06 p.m.
The Community Outreach Booth will host the Toys for Tots Foundation, a national movement organized by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve to collect new, unwrapped toys to distribute as holiday gifts for less fortunate children. The Capital Region Toys for Tots campaign works with more than 200 community agencies to distribute toys and serves more than 200,000 area children. At the Community Outreach Booth, United States Marines volunteering with the Capital Region Toys for Tots program will give its toy collection a head start by accepting monetary donations and new, unwrapped toys.
A New York National Army Guard Humvee and a U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Jeep will be positioned outside the Clubhouse gates while a Light Medium Tactical Vehicle will be located next to the Horse Sense exhibit.
A number of activities will be available for guests at the Saratoga Pavilion throughout the afternoon, including a rock climbing wall, dog tag machine and football toss with the New York National Guard; pull-up bar challenge with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve; disc golf with Naval Support Activity Saratoga Springs; hand-cycle demonstration from STRIDE Adaptive Sports; ring toss and t-shirt giveaways from the Veterans Miracle Center; face painting with a $2 donation to Operation Adopt-A-Soldier; and temporary tattoos with a donation to the Disabled American Veterans. Fans will also have the opportunity to write thank you cards to service members with Stars for Our Troops.
Various military organizations will also offer interactive displays at the Saratoga Pavilion, including the New York National Air Guard; New York State Military Museum; Leatherstocking Honor Flight; Patriot Riders; and the Jewish War Veterans Post 36-Saratoga.
The 2015 season at historic Saratoga Race Course continues through Labor Day, Monday, September 7. For more information about Saratoga Race Course, visit NYRA.com or call 518-584-6200.