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Lip Dub

Jason McKibben -

Dancers Moscelyne ParkeHarrison, from left, Natalie Zeunges and Maria Grimes are filmed during the Saratoga Lip Dub in downtown Saratoga Springs on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011. Hundreds came out, many dressed in costume, to participate in the filming of the video organized by the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce.

SARATOGA SPRINGS -- All the best of what the Spa City has to offer was represented along the city sidewalks and parks Thursday afternoon.

Several hundred area residents and community leaders donned period costumes, performed group dance rituals and mouthed along with the lyrics of a trio of pre-recorded songs featuring the band Train.

The viral marketing effort, titled "Saratoga Lip Dub," was captured by a video crew and will appear as an 8-minute to 10-minute video on YouTube later this month.

Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, set initial cost estimates for the project at about $25,000, all of which is being privately funded or underwritten by area businesses.

"Lip dub" videos are typically used as a tourism showcase that feature community members lip-synching along to popular tunes while strolling through downtown areas.

Recently, students of Emerson College took to downtown Boston to sing along to Lady Gaga tunes in a video that registered more than 1 million views on YouTube.

University of Victoria students in Canada have received more than 1.5 million hits for their lip-dub version of the Train song "Hey Soul Sister," and a video made in Grand Rapids, Mich., that featured Don McLean's song "American Pie," garnered more than 4 million viewers.

"It showed that a city can come together," said Doug Small, president of Experience Grand Rapids, the city's convention and tourism bureau.

While the direct economic impact is difficult to gauge thus far, Small said the organization is awaiting the results of a marketing research it commissioned that includes questions specifically pertinent to the lip-dub project.

Following the posting of the video, correspondence was received from 15 different countries with approximately half of the respondents sufficiently impressed that they said they would place Grand Rapids on the radar as a potential spot to visit in the future, Small said.

Shimkus, who initiated the project locally, said he was hopeful the Saratoga video could secure as many as 10 million viewers.

"It's a fabulous way to promote tourism, particularly when you have something like this that goes viral," said Marcia White, executive director of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

The choice to use a trio of songs by the band Train is because of the city connection to group drummer Scott Underwood, who grew up in Saratoga Springs.

White, who was stationed at the Saratoga Springs City Center alongside local and regional political leaders, said a recent live performance by Train at SPAC was recorded for inclusion in the video.

Camera crews recorded four takes along the filming route that began at the City Center and concluded in Congress Park, where approximately 300 people sang along to the popular song "Drops of Jupiter."

"There it is, my point-oh-three seconds of fame," said Sue Malinowski, who waved a large flag that read "Marylou Whitney rose," as the flatbed truck supporting the film crew rapidly sped by.

"You get 15 minutes of fame in a lifetime, so I still have a lot of minutes left," she said, with a laugh.

"I think everyone is doing an excellent job of showing up to show Saratoga off. It's the place to see and be seen," said local author Hollis Palmer, who donned a late-1800s period suit with a red vest and a black derby for his role as 19th century Saratoga judge and legislator George Batcheller.

Along Broadway, Saratoga was depicted in a variety of eras -- from Victorian-age carolers to Shakespearean actors -- polo players to opera singers and more than a half-dozen horses.

There was a Sam the Bugler to represent the Saratoga Race Course -- depicted by college textbook publisher Dewey Walling -- and a somewhat tall jockey, portrayed by insurance agency owner Steve Heidorn, who wore the silks of Funny Cide's Sackatoga Stables.

At day's end, most who were involved in the making of the video congregated at Congress Park, their number swelling to as many as 1,000.

Not everyone was aware of the lip dub project, however.

As longtime city resident Al McKenny strolled past the park, he surveyed the gathering of actors, many of whom were dressed in period costume.

"Who are these people and what do they want?" McKinney said finally, with a laugh.

The video is anticipated to be put on YouTube shortly after Labor Day weekend.

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