CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. — The staff of the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library thanked the southern Saratoga County community for a half century of support with a Masquerade Ball, and event that proved to everyone in attendance that today’s libraries are more than books, magazines, and DVDs.

The free Oct. 26 event brought the library’s year-long 50th anniversary celebration to a close in a colorful, musical, and entertaining fashion.  For four hours the usually quiet and sedate first floor was transformed into a dance floor filled with masked revelers from the moment ‘Soul Session with Garland Nelson’ hit the evening’s first notes.

Not to be overlooked was the library’s second floor hallway area which was also packed with revelers who swayed to the tunes while sampling local brew pubs’ and distilleries’ spirits and nibbling at tables filled with hors d’oeuvres.

The 55,000-square-foot facility at 475 Moe Road is a long way from the library’s start with tossed off books in the second floor space of what is now the Key Bank building at Exit 9. The Masquerade Ball was the third event this year that celebrated the library’s longevity.

In April the staff brought in ‘Big Fez and the Surfmatics’ to entertain in the second floor program room and in August Woodstock was celebrated with appropriate retro fashions and sounds in the open air.

Prior to the Ball’s musical entertainment library Executive Director Alex Gutelius publically thanked all those people who worked to make the facility what it is today.

“The library’s board, past and present, has been visionary and bold in their support for this institution,” she said. “And we couldn’t do this without the Friends of the Library or our staff who work tirelessly to serve our patrons in the best possible way. We also thank our patrons. Without your support we would not be able to grow to meet the ever-changing needs of our community.”

Springing from an idea in the minds of a few residents in the late 1960s, that the Clifton Park and Halfmoon community deserved a library, the facility now serves 1,200 patrons each day and circulates more than 750,000 items annually.

The event also drew proclamations and congratulatory words from state Sens. Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville and Daphne Jordan, R-Halfmoon, Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh, R-Ballston Spa, and Clifton Park Supervisor Philip Barrett. Jordan is a former library Board of Trustee.

“This facility is like home to me,” she said. “The Clifton Park and Halfmoon Public Library is a vital educational, cultural and community resource for many Clifton Park and Halfmoon families. Its mission is to be the go-to place to meet, learn, and do.”

Ed and Francine Rodger were two of the library’s very early supporters. Both attended the event. Ed Rodger took the opportunity to announce the formation of the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library Foundation, an organization that will fund projects and programs not funded through property tax support (see Library Foundation story, page A4).

Once the dignitaries’ brief remarks had concluded the band kicked into gear with its guitars, bass, drums, congas, horns, and dual vocalists.

“We know how to party here in CP and we’re going to get you moving right now,” Nelson, one of the band’s dual vocalists said.

His promise proved correct as the band worked its way through R&B classics, catchy rhythmic pop tunes, up-tempo hip hop, several disco songs, and a few slower numbers to allow the dancers catch their breath. The main room was awash with mood lighting, colorful balloons, and masked dancers, some of whom were in full costume.

Trevor and Gina Schneider came over for the evening from Burnt Hills dressed as the Scarecrow and the Wicked Witch of the East from the Wizard of Oz.

“We were looking for a nice activity for the weekend,” Gina Schneider said. “I received an email about this and said why not; we haven’t been to a Halloween Party in 30 years. This is a great place.”

Christine Van Hoesen came from Delmar dressed in full Halloween costume as a witch doctor.

“I’ve been going to the library’s 50th events. I went to the Surfmatics performance in April and they were great,” she said. “I keep up with what the library has going on by checking their Facebook page.”

Francine Rodger watched the dance floor fill from the library’s second floor railing, and as the band’s horn section kicked a repeated riff into high gear over the syncopated rhythms of the conga, bass, and drums she marveled at how far the idea of a community library had come.

“This library has been rooted in the community for 50 years,” she said. “If people didn’t dream back then, we wouldn’t have this now.”

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