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Activities archive of our weekly newsletter, In the Loop

Our “In the Loop” newsletter has gone virtual! Each Friday we publish an updated list of upcoming online events and news of interest to Saratogians coping with challenging times. This page provides a comprehensive list of virtual activities and ideas which includes past listings from In the Loop. Not a subscriber? Click the red “Subscribe to In the Loop” button on our home page and we’ll add you to the list. It’s easy and FREE!

More places are opening, but many events are still virtual in Saratoga Springs. And there’s plenty to do, in our community and beyond, while practicing safe social distancing:

Note: Please be considerate of the fact that many websites may be slow or inaccessible at times due to heavy traffic. If you are presenting an online event, please be sure your links are working and your instructions for access are correct.

The Saratoga Y is “reopening with care” as of September 1. The interior facility is now open with appropriate COVID-19 precautions observed. Details on the Saratoga Regional YMCA website. Meanwhile, there are many online resources to help you stay healthy and active without leaving home. Among them is YMCA360, a collaboration of local Ys offering on demand classes including weightlifting, barre, yoga, bootcamp and classes for active older adults.

Make challah with Rabbi Jonathan of Temple Sinai. Most Friday mornings starting at 10:00 am, Rabbi Jonathan leads an online challah class. Please have all ingredients out on the counter before class time, and pre-measured; the list is here. The class will start at 10:00 am with mixing and kneading the dough, then we’ll take a break while the dough rises and resume at 11:30 am to braid our challah. To participate in the weekly session, email to request the Zoom link; please consider making a donation to support the Temple’s charitable and educational activities.

Support your local restaurants in time of need. Our great Saratoga Springs restaurants have been struggling the past 3 months during COVID-19 shutdowns. Now most are open again with precautions in place for dine-in service; takeout and delivery is also available. If you have a local favorite and you want them to be there for you in the future, now is the time to be there for them. And please tip generously—20% or more. It might make a difference in whether they are able to survive this crisis. The Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce has a list with links to the individual establishments to get details.

Saturdays, 9:30 am – 1:30 pm. Farmers’ Market at Wilton Mall. The Market is in its winter home in the food court outside the Bowtie Cinema entrance. Visit for high quality local produce, meats, dairy and baked goods as well as a variety of crafts and gift ideas. Wilton Mall is at 3065 NY-50.

Weekdays at 8:00 am.  Meditation for Stress Reduction. Join Karen Carey each weekday and start the day feeling centered, connected and present with our daily meditation. We’ll begin with an inspiration, have a 10-minute meditation experience and close with some additional thoughts. Free to all! Event begins at 8:00AM and will last 15 to 20 minutes total time. You MUST R.S.V.P. to this event to receive the Zoom room link: call (518) 450-1520 to register. Hosted by Palette Café, which lists a number of upcoming events on their website.

Gather with other booklovers and engage in literary conversation with Northshire Live. Presented by the independent bookstore on Broadway, Northshire Live brings together readers and authors with a series of events, usually on weekdays at 5 pm. The schedule is here. Advance registration and an internet connection is required; guests will receive a Zoom link prior to start of the event. Some events are offered on a sliding “pay what you can” basis from $0 to $20, while others have a set price which includes a copy of the book being discussed.

Free cooking shows with celebrity chefs. This Condé Nast Traveler page lists hours and access for free step-by-step classes and table talk from legends like Massimo Bottura, Christina Tosi, David Chang and more. Jacques Pepin has his own Facebook cooking channel, where the other day he showed us how to make a Dandelion Salad from those pesky weeds sprouting up everywhere.

Saratoga Living now has a job hunters page for locals. From remote content writers, Albany’s FBI Field Office to Instacart shoppers and delivery people, local businesses are hiring! The archive for current and past listings is here.

Do you miss Garland Nelson? Of course you do. Here’s a 20 minute clip from Facebook Live of Garland freestyling and singing favorites like “Dock of the Bay”. It’s just the right length for a break at lunchtime in your work-from-home office.

Tango Fusion is offering free online dance classes. Saratoga-based partners Diane Lachtrupp Martinez and Johnny Martinez will instruct virtual classes on Mondays and Tuesdays starting at 6:30 p.m. on the Tango Fusion Facebook page. Monday classes will include beginner waltz, intermediate swing, beginner cha cha, and advanced hustle. Tuesday classes will include beginner salsa, intermediate salsa, and intermediate West Coast swing. Each week’s class will review lessons from the week before and then add more. The classes are designed for people with an at-home dance partner or to dance solo. More information is available online at or by calling Tango Fusion Dance Company at (518) 932-6447.

Stay Home Sessions with Caffé Lena. In an effort to support local musicians and provide you all with live music in these difficult times, Caffe Lena will be hosting live shows on its YouTube channel every night at 8:00 pm. You’ll have a chance to tip musicians and enjoy some sweet songs from the comfort of your home.

Take advantage of remote services from your library. Saratoga Springs Public Library offers e-books on demand and digital access to dozens of magazines. You can also sign up for a digital library card from the New York Public Library, so long as you are 13 or over and physically reside in New York State, and access thousands of books through their SimplyE application.

Remember when Farm Aid came to SPAC? You can relive it here. That link will take you to Neil Young’s unforgettable performance, then you can view Dave Matthews and other musicians over the years on the Farm Aid YouTube Channel. (Type “Saratoga Farm Aid 2013” in the search box if you want to see all the SPAC performances.)

Take a yoga or pilates class. Local instructor Megan Rose McEntee (a member of your Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee) is building a library of on-demand classes on her ATinyCollective YouTube Channel.

View an archived performance from the Metropolitan Opera. The Met will stream a title from its Live in HD series each night through the duration of the closure. The performances, originally captured as live broadcasts in movie theatres worldwide, will begin at 7:30 PM from the company’s homepage. (The featured performances—and several others—are available via the Met Opera on Demand subscription service, though the videos in the nightly series will be made available for free for 20 hours following the initial stream). Selection for tonight, March 20: Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment, conducted by Marco Armiliato, starring Natalie Dessay and Juan Diego Flórez.

Take an Ivy League class for free. Class Central is a clearing house for information about free and commercial online classes, including 496 courses from the 8 Ivy League schools that are in most cases accessible on demand. Also available: the best online courses of all time, as rated by Class Central users.

Visit a world class museum from your couch. This Travel and Leisure article has links to tours of the British Museum, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Guggenheim and more, made possible through Google Arts & Culture. You can also take a stress-relieving mini-tour by using the hashtag #MuseumMomentofZen on Twitter to find and view what each museum considers its most Zen painting.

Identify that bird singing in your yard. Birdsong is a welcome relief during these times… so why not get to know the critters better? The Audubon Society Bird Guide has identification tips as well as snippets of their melodies. Listings are sortable by region: you’ll probably have best luck in the New England section.

Get up close with Rembrandt’s masterpiece The Night Watch. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has published the largest and most detailed ever photograph of The Night Watch on its website, making it possible to zoom in on individual brushstrokes and even particles of pigment in the painting.  The Night Watch is arguably the most famous painting by Rembrandt van Rijn.

Got kids at home? Facing the challenge of home schooling? Here are ideas. Many of these were suggested by Julie Rohr, a home-schooling mom and distance learning specialist based in Schenectady. Thanks, Julie!

The SPAC Festival of Young Artists has gone virtual for 2020. Celebrating the performances, artwork and writings of student artists from the Adirondack, Saratoga and Capital regions, SPACFOYA 2020 can be accessed through this portal. The first virtual exhibit, “Self-Portrait,” explores the ways artists express themselves and how their own identities influence their work. A series of galleries highlights the winners and student submissions in a variety of categories including visual arts, literary arts and performance. With sponsorship from Adirondack Trust.

Watch a time-lapse video of the surface of the sun (no dark glasses needed). In 2010, NASA launched a specialized satellite to film the surface of the sun. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the satellite’s launch, the Solar Dynamic Observatory released a time-lapse video of the sun’s movement over the course of the past decade. The breathtaking visual was shot over ten years; each second represents one hour of real time. Thanks to Gov. Cuomo for this and the following tip, which he shared in his daily emails with Coronavirus updates.

Plan a visit to a NY State Park with a new app from the NY State Office of Parks. The free mobile app provides helpful information about the variety of destinations, activities and adventures available throughout the Empire State’s park system, and offers quick access to park information including directions, hours, fees and rates, trail maps, and helpful know-before-you-go details. Learn more here.

Take a virtual field trip to the New York State Museum. For older kids, and parents. Join us for our “Facebook Live Field Trips to the New York State Museum” every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 1:00 p.m. (EDT). Visit with NYSM educators, scientists, and historians as they take you behind the scenes of some of the museum’s exhibits and collections to highlight cool finds and facts from New York State! Schedule of upcoming topics here; view past field trips on the NYSM YouTube Channel.

Build a project on Google. Google Arts & Culture, mentioned above, is packed with stories and content to keep them (and you) in a state of lifelong learning. Most popular this week: 4 things to do with your camera phone from home; take a peek at Frida Kahlo’s diary; 6 things you never knew about Monet. With parental guidance, this could be a project for older or younger children depending on the topic you choose.

Join the 518 Rainbow Hunt. Initiated by a Scotia resident, the 518 Rainbow Hunt Facebook page recently passed 100,000 worldwide subscribers. Take pictures of the rainbows your kids see or create and post them to the page. Or just go on your own rainbow hunt in your Saratoga neighborhood; there are a LOT of them out there for kids to find and count while practicing safe social distancing.

Are you a teacher? Kahoot’s game-based premium learning platform is free to educators for the balance of the school year. “With Kahoot! Premium, teachers can use advanced reports to facilitate formative assessment and adjust instruction based on student performance – even when they cannot attend school. Kahoot! Premium also lets teachers put together a bank of school-wide educational games and collaborate with other teachers in their school.” To get free access, apply here.

Khan Academy to expand pre-AP test offerings. Many parents and students are familiar with Khan Academy for their vast range of free courses to supplement classroom learning. According to Julie, they will be adding AP-prep material for students who plan to take Advancement Placement tests this spring but are locked out of the opportunity to get the learning they need at school.

Share lunchtime doodles with Mo Willems. Around the world, people of all ages have joined Mo Willems in his studio for weekday LUNCH DOODLES. The three-week run, all 15 episodes and their downloadable activities, are archived on the Kennedy Center website. For a short list of other authors and illustrators who are sharing stories and leading activities online, click here.

Download a fun science lesson from the California Academy of Sciences.The museum’s Resources page has entertaining and educational activities organized by category and grade. Available lessons help kids learn about composting, African animals, the water cycle of the Amazon, how air pressure works and much more.

Let Dolly Parton read your kids (and you) a bedtime story. The readings started on April 2 with “The Little Engine That Could” and will continue on a regular basis (with previous nights archived) on the Goodnight with Dolly YouTube Channel. The books are selected from her Imagination Library, and carefully chosen for their appropriate content at this moment in time.

Younger kids can explore and get involved with videos from the Children’s Museum. On the Children’s Museum at Saratoga Facebook page you’ll find Story Time, Science Explorers and Art Adventures that bring home the fun of visiting the museum during this time when it’s closed.

Welcome to Tang at Home! Explore fun activities you can do at home with your friends and family, based on art and exhibitions at the Tang. Art Educator Sunny Ra explains the concept in a welcome video. The page currently offers a number of downloadable pdfs to discuss, color and share with more to come.

Thursdays at 1:30 pm. Caffè Lena Youth School of Music. Every Thursday for 9 weeks starting May 14, give your children the gift of music. Taught by Oona Grady and James Gascoyne, youth ages 7-12 can choose between guitar, banjo, fiddle, and ukulele. All students will be working from a common repertoire of songs that best fit their individual progress. Classes will be conducted in a Master Class format where each student will receive individualized attention and instruction on the piece they are currently working on. The classes will be taught on the Zoom internet platform. More information and registration here.

Julie Rohr’s perspective as a homeschooling parent. She is required to submit a lesson plan to NY State at the beginning of the year, but it is an acceptable result if 80% of curriculum objectives are met. So don’t panic if you and your kids have a bad day. Consider taking this time to go outside, enjoy life at a slower pace, perhaps learn about our political system and how democracy works.

Want to support local Democratic candidates and the work of the Saratoga Springs Democratic Party? It’s easy! Use the PayPal button on our website to make a one-time or monthly contribution as little as $5.