STAFF ED: Chamber of Commerce alienates youth with “A Taste of Saratoga”

September 12, 2008 — by Ben Clement, Ketaki Shriram, and Holden Sparacino

The Celebrate Saratoga Street Dance, a popular and well-received event by all of Saratoga, has been changed this fall to appeal more to an older population.

Celebrate Saratoga has been going on for 19 years, and last year entertained 30,000 people. It now will be called “Taste of Saratoga,” and will be held from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sept. 20, a change in timing dictated by the Saratoga Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber President Vance Nelson said the Chamber of Commerce is hoping to appeal to the “generation with a more disposable income,” according to the Saratoga News.

If this change does not deplete the large crowd normally present at street dances, then it will surely cause many locals to realize the changes are for the worse, many of whom will not attend next year.

Large groups of people are more likely to attend an event in the evening because of jobs and other commitments throughout the day. A prime example of this is the attendants to a matinee movie versus that of one later in the evening. Since the Street Dance is the main source of income for the Chamber, one would think the Chamber would want as many people as possible attending this event. But much of the older demographic that the new street dance hopes to attract, not to mention the younger generation, will be unable to attend due to busy work schedules or daytime engagements. Disposable income then is no longer a problem. The issue then is a lack of attendance.

The main reason for the sudden change, as stated by Nelson, is the occurrence of underage drinking in past years. Not just drinking, but specifically underage drinking. Although this will be curbed by the change in time, it is unfair for the Chamber of Commerce to cite all teens as being drunk, change the time deliberately to get rid of Saratoga’s teens, and replace the “teen zone” with a food court.

The Chamber of Commerce has chosen to ignore the main issue of adults drinking at the street dance and put the sole blame on teenagers. By stating underage drinking as the issue behind the drastic alteration of this night event, the Chamber has alienated a huge crowd that may have still gathered for “A Taste of Saratoga” in the afternoon.

Fine. If the chamber wants to get rid of the teens, then they will just not show up. This change will hurt the Chamber much more in the long run than it will hurt Saratoga’s youth. If you disagree with the changes to this much-revered event, simply don’t attend. It’s the only way that the Chamber will get the message.

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