Big weekend places Albany in the spotlight

ALBANY HERALD EDITORIAL: Marathon races and Mardi Gras are opportunities for Albany to make positive impressions

Albany gets a chance to put its best foot forward in one of the year’s biggest events this weekend — the 8th annual Albany Marathon and Half-Marathon Powered by Snickers.

That event will be followed in quick succession downtown by the annual Mardi Gras festival, which is moving to the 100 block of Pine Avenue this year. At that location, it will provide access to the riverfront park, the Arts Park on Pine and the Flint RiverQuarium.

The two events will attract a large number of people downtown and show those who attend that the area has some life in it. And it looks like the weather, as opposed to the last two years, will be more cooperative this year, if not a bit on the cool side. The chance of rain is only about 20 percent before it tails off, and the temperatures are expected to start out at 43 degrees for the marathoners before warming up to 64 later in the day.

It’s all a recipe for an enjoyable weekend in downtown Albany, with music, entertainment and food available for those who attend.

The runners will also get to see some of the things about Albany that are most attractive. Among the sights along the route will be the sand dunes in East Albany, the campuses of Albany State University and Darton State College, Lake Loretta on Dawson Road, the garden neighbor hood of Rawson Circle, Hilsman Park, the Thronateeska Heritage Center, Riverfront Park, the Albany Welcome Center and the Flint RiverQuarium.

Certainly there are rewards for the runners, who can pull in $3,000 for first place in the men’s and women’s competitions, with a combined $12,000 in prize money going to the top three finishers of each gender. And the runners can qualify for the granddaddy of marathons — the Boston Marathon — with a good showing here. And, we would expect there is a great deal of self-satisfaction in simply the achievement of completing the run, a case in which the journey itself is the reward.

Likewise, there are potential rewards for our community. This is an excellent opportunity, as it has been each year, for Albany to live up to its Good Life City slogan. We hope that everyone in the community will greet our visitors warmly and help make their visit memorable and enjoyable. By providing a good experience with a generous dose of old-fashioned Southern hospitality, Albany can benefit from word of mouth when out-of-towners return home and talk with their friends.

Once again, we have an ideal opportunity to make a great and lasting impression. We should make the most of it.

The Albany Herald Editorial Board