SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – The New York Racing Association, Inc. today celebrated the culture and traditions of the Bel Paese during Italian-American Heritage Day at Saratoga Race Course. The day-long festivities featured Italian music, dance, entertainment, crafts and food from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Saratoga Pavilion.
The day’s eighth race was named “Buon Giorno: Italian-American Heritage Day” in honor of the celebration. Italian tenor Angelo Mazzone, Jr. performed the classic opera song “O Sole Mio” in the winner’s circle following the race.
“It’s an honor to be singing here in Saratoga, my hometown…especially to be representing the Italian-American community of the Capital District. It’s a really great honor,” said Mazzone.
Accordion player Ralph “Carmine” Brooks and Italian jugglers greeted guests with traditional Italian music as they arrived at the entrances to Saratoga Race Course. Italian singer Brian DiGuiseppe began the day by performing the National Anthem in the winner’s circle. Children with the Italian American Community Center Ballerini performed a traditional Italian folk dance trackside following the day’s third race.
Performers throughout the day at the Saratoga Pavilion and bandstand included: Italian opera singer Christina Pizzino-Catalano and her accompanying pianist; Neapolitan musician Umberto Palmieri; singer Franklin Micare; and Italian folk dancers from the Albany Dancesport Club and the Italian American Community Center Ballerini.
Italian food was available for purchase at the Saratoga Pavilion including meatball and sausage subs; eggplant and chicken parmigiana; cannoli; biscotti; and gelato from Saratoga Gelato. All proceeds benefited the Italian Heritage Association and Museum in Albany.
Italian food specials were also available for purchase at participating concessions throughout the track, including: meatball sandwiches at select locations in the Clubhouse and Grandstand; gelato at the lemonade and snack stands in the backyard; vegetable and pepperoni stromboli at Paddock Pizza near the finish line; antipasto salad at the Panini Stand in the grandstand; escarole and bean soup at the Chowder Bar; and Italian rope sausage and broccoli rabe on Kaiser rolls at Fourstardave’s in the backyard. Additionally, all a la carte dining restaurants featured Italian specials on the menu and the Italian beer Peroni was available at select locations.
Children had the opportunity to create their own Venetian mask at the Saratoga Pavilion as part of the day’s activities highlighting Italian culture, traditions and history. Italian language lessons were also available. Interactive exhibits from the American Italian Heritage Association and Museum were on display.
The 2015 summer meet at 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.