GLENS FALLS - Organizers have a surprise "special effect" planned for tonight's kickoff of a yearlong Glens Falls Centennial Celebration.

Neil Akins, chairman of the centennial committee, would not reveal too many details last week when a Post-Star reporter spotted Akins and Steve Berkowitz, of the city Department of Public Works, measuring the distance between the second and third floors of City Hall.

Akins, leaning out a third-floor window, held one end of a tape measure, while Berkowitz, standing on the second-floor balcony, held the other end.

All Akins would say is they were measuring for a "special effect" being prepared by Adirondack Studios, a scenery company in Argyle.

"I don't want to give away too much," Akins said.

Centennial activities begin this evening at 5:30 and run until just after midnight, when fireworks will be shot off from Centennial Circle.

At City Hall, the centennial committee will be distributing free copies of a CD with popular songs from the past century.

For instance, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" was one of the top hits from 1908, Akins said.

The centennial committee has been planning tonight's celebration for about two years.

"Neil and I spoke the other day, and we said, 'It's been forever that we've been working on this,' " said Melody O'Donnell, an assistant to Akins.

The schedule of activities is as follows:

* Glens Falls Civic Center: free ice skating, 5:30 to 7 p.m.

* Glens Falls Family YMCA: free family activities, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

* Charles R. Wood Theater: Laura and Athena Roth in concert at 8 p.m.; $30 admission charge

* City Hall: activities including music, art exhibits and receptions on all three floors; clock dedication in front of City Hall at 11:30 p.m.; fireworks at Centennial Circle just after midnight

Some downtown businesses will be open until midnight.

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