A birthday party seven years in the making

Veronica Spann, a resident of the Lake George area, turned 31 on the day of the total solar eclipse. (Enterprise photo — Elizabeth Izzo)

SARANAC LAKE — Just moments before the eclipse reached peak totality, a group of more than 30 people in Saranac Lake’s Riverside Park began to raise their voices and sing.

“Happy birthday to you,” they sang, surrounding a smiling woman wearing a silver tiara.

Many of the more than 200 people scattered throughout the park started to sing along, turning away from the celestial spectacle to join the woman’s friends in ushering in her 31st birthday. Soon, the song gave way to gasps of delight and screams of joy as the temperature dropped and the moon blotted out the sun.

Veronica Spann, the Lake George-area resident who turned 31 on Monday, has been planning to spend her birthday watching the solar eclipse since August 2017, when she saw the last partial solar eclipse from South Carolina.

“I went to the 2017 eclipse and I was like, blown away by it,” she said. “And I wanted to see when the next eclipse was, and I was like, ‘Oh my god, it’s going to be on my birthday and in my favorite place, in the Adirondacks.'”

Dani Leon, of Pennsylvania, smiles at Berkeley Green in Saranac Lake ahead of the total solar eclipse. (Enterprise photo — Elizabeth Izzo)

She said it was then that she decided that she wanted to throw “this big party.”

“And we did it,” she said.

She landed on Saranac Lake, specifically, for a few reasons.

“I felt like Saranac Lake just has a very good vibe to it and it didn’t seem as busy as Lake Placid and it felt like there was a lot of outdoor access on the days when we weren’t here,” she said.

It just so happened that her sister, Allison, who is a Brooklyn-based artist and musician, was also booked to play in Berkeley Green during Saranac Lake’s Solar Fest.

Veronica Spann, a resident of the Lake George area, celebrated her 31st birthday on Monday with nearly 40 friends who traveled from all around the world. (Enterprise photo — Elizabeth Izzo)

Nearly 40 of Spann’s friends traveled to the Adirondacks from all around the world to celebrate with her, including friends from South Korea, Australia, the United Kingdom and France. By Monday, the longtime friends had spent four days in this area enjoying the outdoors. On Monday morning, the friends did a “polar plunge” together — they swam in the freezing-cold waters of Ampersand Bay.

“I’m just so excited,” Spann said. “I’m thrilled that it’s sunny.”

One of the friends who traveled to celebrate with Spann was Dani Leon, from the Allentown area of Pennsylvania.

Leon — who was decked out in a sparkly sequined dress with a sun-and-moon pattern, eclipse earrings and eclipse glasses — explained that the friends met while working on an island in South Korea.

“Somehow, (Spann) gathered all of us — there’s like, 30-plus of us here. And we’ve been here for about four days to celebrate her birthday, to celebrate friends young and old, and also celebrate the eclipse. We turned it into a huge party,” she said.

“It’s beautiful. I can’t believe that we were so lucky,” she said of Saranac Lake. “She planned all of this at such a beautiful location.”

With some of them together again for the first time in many years, Leon said that the group has shared “happy tears and very good stories.”

“It’s been really, really incredible,” she added. “This is something I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.”


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