There is a coveted spot right next to the Hudson, with a small tree for a bit of shade and a perfect view for people-watching.
Cheryl Riberdy of Halfmoon and Antionette Hoffman of East Greenbush have claimed this spot for the last five years and snagged it again Thursday night for the opening of the 22nd season of Alive at Five, the concert series that will run throughout the summer.
“It’s perfect, we come down here after work and we can people-watch or just turn around and watch the river,” Riberdy said. “We’ll even wait for people to move in order to have this spot.”
There were plenty of people to watch because despite a cold wind, the clouds parted and an estimated 5,000 people came to Alive at Five at the Albany Riverfront Park in Corning Preserve. But it was chilly.
“The weather could have been better,” said Amanda Robillard of Watervliet. Her companion, Tyler Lovegrove, said it was fun to come down on “nice days to listen to the music, I mean, you can’t do that during the winter.”
The event offered residents a chance to be out of doors after being cooped inside for a winter that didn’t seem to want to loosen its hold through March and April.
“I like coming down here, sitting outside and enjoying the fresh air and whatever music is playing,” said Beth DeRusso, who has been coming for the last 19 years. “It’s the perfect way to celebrate the start of the warm weather.”
The genre of music varies throughout the series, with bands playing anything from classic rock to country.
Each season there is an Irish night and this year opened with local band Mirk and the nationally known Vertical Horizon.
“We try and do a bit of everything so everyone can come at least one night and enjoy music,” said Jason Bonafide, public relations coordinator for the city of Albany Special Events Department, which hosts the series. It is free through funding by corporate sponsors.
“I think, and I’m sure Mayor Jennings agrees, that it is very important to provide free entertainment for our residents, others in the region and visitors,” Bonafide said. “It draws people into the downtown and increases the quality of life.”
Free helps draw crowds. Alive at Five has attracted upwards of 15,000 people in one night. Part of this is the location — the Corning Preserve has space to accommodate more concertgoers than the previous location, which was in Tricentennial Park.
“It was much more intimate, but this is fantastic,” DeRusso said. “The river is really pretty.”
With the extra room, there is the ability to move around.
“There is plenty of parking, you can always move if someone is annoying you,” said Tim Baird, who has been attending with his wife, Devon, since the beginning.
“It’s also better since they banned the coolers,” she said.
The rest of the season will continue with local bands opening at 5 p.m. for an hour, followed by the nationally known band. That will include Kansas this season.
“It’s a perfect way to break up the week,” Hoffman and Riberdy said. “It’s not interfering with the weekend, and we can come down right after work, have a few beers and relax.”
They intend on continuing the tradition until it ends.
“We’ll be here until Major Jennings decides not to fund it anymore,” Riberdy said.