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Peekskill Celebration: What You Need To Know

PEEKSKILL – The biggest event of the year is here once again, and the 2011 Peekskill Celebration will start strong.

“We kick off Friday at 5 p.m. where vendors will be open for business and at 6 p.m. we start the entertainment,” said Peekskill Celebration Executive Director Cathy Montaldo.

At 6:45 p.m. there will be an “I” dotting ceremony to start the weekend’s festivities off. “We’re painting in the eyes on the dragon boats,” Johansen said. “It supposed to awaken the spirit of the dragons in the river and have them give us good fortune.”

At 7 p.m. the Reggae Roots Band will take the center stage as the Friday headliner, and sometime between 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. as the concert is ending there will be a boat parade from the Peekskill Yacht Club to end the night. “They’ll have the boats decorated with lights,” Montaldo said. “We did it last year for the first time last year and it was really cool.”

On Saturday, the Jan Peek 10k Race and Two Mile Walk starts at 8 a.m. and the celebration’s popular dragon boat races begin at 9 a.m. At 11 a.m. NBA player and Peekskill High School graduate Elton Brand will hold his annual youth basketball clinic at the high school. This year, the celebration will also feature a second stage in the new Peekskill Landing Park just for families. “All the performers are either kids performing or performers for kids,” Montaldo said. “We have a magician, a juggler, a couple of youth bands from the high school, martial arts demonstrations and a boxing demonstration. There will also be hot-air balloon tether rides, weather permitting.”

Most events will be held rain or shine with only the boat races being a question, she said. “The only thing that stops the dragon boats is lightning or heavy winds, for obvious reasons,” Montaldo said. Parking for the event remains a challenge, she said. “We do have shuttle buses to help people, from downtown and Charles Point,” Montaldo said. “All the businesses at Charles Point allow us to use their parking lots for Saturday. And all the commuter lots down here are open so you don’t have to worry about getting tickets. Montaldo said those who live near the Metro North Hudson Line should use the trains to get to the park if possible, and can take them home after the 9:15 fireworks on Saturday.

“There are trains running until after midnight,” Montaldo said. Admission to the celebration is free, but some rides and attractions charge a fee and food can bought through vendors. “I always like to say that a family can come here for the day and have a great time and not have to worry about whether they can pay their rent,” Montaldo said.” It’s affordable for everybody. You can spend money on food vendors or you can bring your own and not spend a dime.”

Peekskill police will have a strong presence at the event to handle the large crowds that will descend on the city, said Peekskill Police spokesman Lt. Eric Johansen. “We’ll have officers assigned all weekend long,” Johansen said. “Without going into specific numbers we do add personnel to these events and we can assure the public it’s a very safe, enjoyable atmosphere to bring your family to.” Johansen cautioned those coming for Saturday night’s fireworks show to arrive early in order to find parking. “If you think you’re going to come at 9:15 and drive into the riverfront for the 9:30 fireworks show you’re going to be disappointed,” Johansen said.

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