Freedom Park was built so that the Bicentennial Barge would have a place to land in Schenectady County in 1976. The former dumping ground for unset concrete and discarded construction materials was transformed into a lovely amphitheater and stage on the banks of the Mohawk River; an idyllic setting for the production of “Ballad for Americans.” After a wonderful summer of historical and patriotic festivities, soon to be Mayor Dennis Madden, realized that Scotia now had a fine performance venue – and no plans to use it in the future. Thus was born the Freedom Park Foundation.
When Dennis found employment out of state, the Foundation continued to present weekly Wednesday programs throughout the ’80s and ’90s under the leadership of new board President, Nell Burrows. The original small core of volunteers was expanded significantly under Mayor Jim Denny and Park Board Chair Carl George in the mid-nineties.
A new stage was constructed in 1998 and named the “Dennis F. Madden Stage.” It included storage and space for a dressing room as well as a roof over the performance space. The Glenville Rotary club finished and furnished the dressing room interior. An all-weather dance floor was added in 2000 and a back-stage lavatory for performers was built with a Wright Foundation grant in 2001. In 2010, the Scotia Rotary club built a covered platform for the sound equipment at the top of the amphitheater.
The free summer programs have increased from 8 in 1997 to over 35 more recently, with shows presented each Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday (with a couple of Thursdays and Fridays) throughout the summer.