GLENS FALLS u The history books written about this city will tell that at precisely 3:33 on a Sunday afternoon, under the blue serenity of a cloudless sky, more than 200 spectators lined the streets to witness the opening of the roundabout.
Following years of planning, five weeks of construction and a cost of nearly $9 million to build, the roundabout opened in the heart of the city's downtown district, with its roadway arteries that lead everywhere.
The afternoon ceremony had a parade-like atmosphere.
It began with a pair of policemen on motorcycles who led the procession through the circle as the music of the 13-member Adirondack Pipes and Drums filled the air. They were followed by a red trolley bus carrying politicians and area dignitaries through the roundabout, stopping before the exit onto Ridge Street.
Led by a blue Pontiac GTO muscle car, a caravan of classic cars pulled into the circle. They included bright red Thunderbirds and teal-tinted Bel Aires, a shiny, black Eldorado convertible whose space-age tail fins were reminiscent of the era of Elvis and a mustard-yellow Model A Ford dating back to the days of the Great Depression.
Mayor Roy Akins - two weeks after having surgery to remove a tumor from his brain - had elected to walk from City Hall to the event. He crossed to a makeshift podium in the center of the circle.
"This roundabout is symbolic of a century of celebrating our city. And in 2008, we will be celebrating our centennial year," said Akins.
He then unveiled a sign, christening the roundabout "Centennial Circle."
The name was selected from more than 60 submissions in a name-the-roundabout contest. The winning entry was submitted by Queensbury couple Diane and Jon Swanson.
The crowd seemed impressed with the roundabout.
"I think this is a big improvement, regardless of whether or not it improves traffic," said local resident Mark Cartier, who watched the festivities from a position near Hudson Avenue. "This improves the appearance downtown and it makes the city look progressive," he said.
"We came to be part of history," said area resident Becky Grinnel.
"And to see the trolley," added one of her three children, who gathered on corner where Route 9 leads south.
Others enjoyed the parade of more than two dozen classic vehicles that seemed to rumble in from another era.
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is your roundabout," Akins announced, using an oversized pair of wooden scissors to cut the strip of yellow caution tape that served as the ceremonial ribbon.
In response, the classic cars tooted their vintage horns in a symphony of ah-oo-ga's and proceeded to pass through the roundabout, opening up the lanes for the modern minivans, pickup trucks and passenger cars of the 21st century.