Independence Day Fireworks Return to Jones Beach


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced the return of the July 4th Fireworks Spectacular to Jones Beach State Park, bringing back the Long Island patriotic tradition last held in 2009. The show, sponsored by Astoria Bank, is a 30-minute dazzling display that will feature a variety of colors and sights illuminating the sky at the highly visited and favored park. The colorful display, performed by Garden State Fireworks, will take place on Saturday, July 4 beginning at 9:30 p.m. Event Details. 

"For generations, Long Islanders, their fellow New Yorkers, and visitors alike have enjoyed the July 4th fireworks spectacle at Jones Beach, and our administration is proud to revive this tradition," Governor Cuomo said. "As we celebrate Independence Day this year, I encourage New Yorkers and tourists alike to join us and see all that Jones Beach and Long Island have to offer."

The July 4
th Fireworks Spectacular has traditionally drawn an average of more than 100,000 spectators in prior years. This year's program, with lead sponsorship by Astoria Bank, is also made possible with support from the Natural Heritage Trust, Foundation for Long Island State Parks Inc., Captree Boatman's Association, Newsday, Connoisseur Media Long Island and J & B Restaurant Partners. Read More



State Parks Building New 'Base Camp' for
Thacher State Park


State Parks recently broke ground on the Thacher Park Center, a $3.8 million project to provide a much-needed anchor for visitors who want to explore the 2,500-acre park on Albany County's Helderberg Escarpment year-round.

The center, to be set next to the trailhead and picnic area for the popular Indian Ladder Trail, will introduce visitors to new park features, including an expanded trail network, as well as new opportunities for biking, rock climbing, caving, environmental education and a new high-ropes adventure course. The 8,240-square-foot Thacher Park Visitor Center will include a welcome information desk to help visitors explore the park's expansive trail network; multipurpose gathering space that can be reserved for special events, and an outdoor patio where visitors can absorb the park's dramatic views.


The center's groundbreaking also kicked off the Campaign for Thacher Park Center, a private fundraising campaign to add state-of-the-art exhibit installations highlighting the park's unique geology, natural history and spectacular scenery; as well as well-appointed common areas and a sustaining endowment. Spearheaded by the Open Space Institute, the Campaign for the Thacher Park Center has a $1 million fundraising goal. For information on the campaign, visit



Fourth of July Fun


Celebrate our nation's independence with state parks and historic sites this July Fourth. See history in action with reenactments and cannon firing demonstrations at Knox's Headquarters, New Windsor Cantonment, and Fort Montgomery. Clermont will host an old-fashioned Independence Day complete with 18th century crafts, music, and entertainment. Be there as spirited readings of the Declaration of Independence are performed at Stony Point Battlefield and John Jay Homestead. Join in on a day of 18th century games and performers at Schuyler Mansion. For a "booming" conclusion to the holiday, see fireworks spectaculars light the skies at Allegany and Walkway Over the Hudson. For more festivities, check our events calendar.



Learn to Swim

Learn to Swim programs are available at an increased number of parks, in every region of the state, this summer season. Many programs are free or low-cost and enrollment is 
underway! Learn more.

Swim Safe

New York State parks staff and lifeguards work hard to keep our visitors safe. Remember that swimming is only allowed in designated areas where lifeguards are present. Please adhere to park regulations and follow these simple tips to keep you and your family safe as you swim in State parks. Swim Safe Tips

360-year-old cannon returns to New York

A cannon dating to about 1650, which had been salvaged from the St. Lawrence River at the head of Carleton Island in the Town of Cape Vincent decades ago, recently returned to New York.

The nearly 6,000 pound cannon was cast in Britain in the mid-17th century and sent to New York in November 1739 on the HMS Vanguard. During the French and Indian War, it was moved to Oswego or Fort William Henry. It was captured by the French in 1756 or 1757, and recaptured by the British at the Battle of Isle Royal near present day Ogdensburg, NY in 1760. During the Revolution, it was moved from Fort William Augustus (Isle Royal) to Fort Haldimand at Carleton Island. Just before the start of the War of 1812, it was sunk in the St. Lawrence to keep it from falling into the hands of the Americans. It was recovered by American divers in the early 1960s, and became the property of the New York State Museum.

New York State offered the cannon as a long-term loan to the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, where it has been for more than two decades. Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site is taking possession of the cannon and plans to loan it to the Village of Cape Vincent for display at East End Park on the shores overlooking Carleton Island, where so much of the cannon's history played itself out.


Parks 2020 Plan Revitalizing Key Features of Central NY Parks

Governor Cuomo recently announced transformative progress in signature projects in two popular New York State Parks in Onondaga and Oneida counties.

Verona Beach State Park celebrated the grand opening of its new bathhouse, which houses a full concession stand, universally accessible public restrooms, and a first aid station with lifeguard office and locker rooms. A new enclosed pavilion/community room and three small picnic shelters were also recently completed near the park's beach and popular campground.

At Green Lakes State Park, near Syracuse, three major improvement projects are currently underway. The golf clubhouse is undergoing a complete renovation to construct a multi-tiered patio with an accessible outdoor dining area, and later this year, the interior will be redesigned to increase seating. The park's Pine Woods Campground is receiving improved campsites (including the addition of full service sites with electric, water and sewer connections for the first time in the Central NY region), new restroom facilities, and structural upgrades. Work on the park's entrance and utilities will improve water, sewer, electric, communications, roadways, and address traffic issues with an added automated entry lane providing visitors with more convenient payment options.

Combined, the projects are funded with $13 million from Governor Cuomo's Parks 2020 Plan. Read More.



Behind the Scenery with State Park Police Mounts

Typically we highlight an employee in the Behind the Scenery feature; for this issue, we are showcasing the four-legged, equine variety playing an important role in keeping our parks and sites safe.

New York State Park Police's Mounted Unit came into existence in the Saratoga Region in the mid- to late-70's and has been a popular draw ever since. There are currently five horses in the unit located in Saratoga Springs: King, a former carriage horse; Galen, a former logging horse; Hanna, a former jousting horse at medieval fairs; and Manny and Artie, both former race horses. 

All the horses are donated for police use and go through a 90-day trial period to assess their suitability for law enforcement. The horses must be calm in demeanor, tolerant of young children and adults wanting to see them up close, comfortable standing still for extended periods, and not easily startled by sudden movements or loud noises, among other things. Horses that meet the criteria are adopted by and become members of the New York State Park Police Mounted Unit. 

Officers assigned to the unit must be Division of Criminal Justice Services-certified Police Mounted Officers. Certification requires that these men and women attend a seven-week Mounted Officers School where they learn basic riding skills, crowd control formation, equine care and maintenance, tack care and maintenance and everything else required of the mounted officer up to and including issuing parking tickets from horseback. Saratoga currently has seven officers certified for Mounted Patrol. 

The Mounted unit is generally employed for crowd control purposes during concerts and major events. They are also used for public relations purposes and have been assigned to the large gatherings such as the fish stocking at Saratoga, Blue Friday events in the Capitol area, parades, police memorial services in downtown Albany, fireworks at Bear Mountain State Park and the New York State Fair.  

Find Your Fit at New York State Parks! 

There's no better way to help kick off America's birthday than by getting out and exploring all the activities within New York State Parks!

Come start the celebration on July 3rd for some night time disc golf at Green Lakes State Park. The disc golf course will be illuminated by glow lights and tiki torches, which will make for a unique playing experience. The event will be held from 8-11pm and those attending are asked to bring their own Frisbee. In addition, this event will also take place on July 24th.

If you're thinking about getting out on the water this summer, visit Wellesley Island State Park from 5:30pm-7:00pm on Saturdays, starting July 4th for evening kayak tours. Cost is $4 per person and participants who plan on renting a kayak should register at least one day in advance.

Want a more relaxed approach to your holiday? Take part in Yoga on the Beach at Grafton Lakes State Park. From 9:30am-10:30am join instructor Julie Harrell, July 4th and every Saturday throughout the summer, as you stretch and enjoy the serenity of the lake and nature around you. Please bring a towel and/or yoga mat and meet at the far end of the beach. Cost is $12 a class.

Challenge yourself to some friendly competition by competing in the Jones Beach Volleyball Tournament July 18th-19th. Played on the sand courts, this event is open to males and females with two divisions: 4-player teams and 6-player teams. Please contact Jones Beach State Park for additional details.

Looking for more ways to get fit and stay active this summer? New York State Parks provides countless opportunities and activities to stay active and exercise - no matter your age or fitness level. For a complete listing of upcoming events, visit our #GetFitNYS events page for more details.


Sleep Under the Stars!

The 2015 New York State Camping Guide is now available, so start planning your summer getaway! The 118 State Parks and Department of Environmental Conservation campgrounds across New York are featured along with images, amenities, a map, reservation information and more. With tranquil tent sites tucked amid the woods to boat-access only waterfront sites to multi-room cottages, and everything in between, state park campgrounds are the perfect settings for long weekends and destination vacations.  

Volunteer Spotlight: Laura and Kevin Nordstrom, Costumed Interpreters 
Hometown: Kingston, NY
Historic Site Affiliation: Clermont State Historic Site 
How long have you been volunteering at this location and how did you get involved?

We started volunteering in February of 2013 when I was involved in the Out of Time Fashion show, an event organized by the Friends of Clermont in Germantown. I had a great time, and dressing up like Scarlett O'Hara was a clincher!  Kevin ended up joining, and we were asked back for the Hudson Flag Day parade, July 4th, the ghost tours and the Christmas Tableaus. We've have been involved now for 2 years going on 3!

Describe a recent program that you participated in:

The Candlelight Ghost Tours are our favorite thing to do with Clermont. This past year was our second time participating and it was absolutely incredible. In 2013, Kevin was the sword brandishing Irishman General Richard Montgomery and I was Louise D'Avezac, a French woman married into the Livingston family. By the next year, Kevin and I were married, having gotten engaged at Clermont! Then site manager, Kjirsten Gustavson decided that in 2014, the Ghost Tour would lead with the love story of General Montgomery and Janet Livingston, and she put Kevin and me in those roles. It was so lovely and people really enjoyed the emotion of it all. Kevin and I came to take the stories personally, as we had fallen in love with Clermont and as our own love story circled around the site, it was cool to bring this other Clermont love story to life.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Clermont is probably the best kept secret of State Parks and Historic Sites! It's like this little jewel that may not seem as grand or be as opulent as Vanderbilt, or intriguing and foreign as Olana, but it has something else. There's true emotion at Clermont; maybe because it has this family feel to it, from the gardens to the ruins and the mossy stone patio on the river side, it's a place full know what, I can't even put a word on it! It's got magic.

On top of that, the volunteers circle and the staff are all so welcoming. Everyone gets connected and it really makes you feel great when you return to volunteer. It is its own little Clermont family, and it is a pleasure to be part of it! 

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