Better hide the Scooby Snacks: Scooby-Doo is coming to town.
The Warner Brothers Animation cartoon character will serve as grand marshal of the 43rd Annual Gazette Holiday Parade on Nov. 19. The parade begins at 5 p.m. at Schenectady County Community College and travels east to Lafayette Street, lasting approximately 90 minutes.
It will feature at least 80 entries, offering a mixture of marching bands, fire departments, dance troupes, businesses, nonprofits, floats, horses, dogs and walkers.
There will be even an entry featuring the immensely popular video game “Angry Birds,” said Gail Kehn, director of government and community relations for the Chamber of Schenectady County, which is promoting the holiday event.
Scooby-Doo will be on loan from The Great Escape, a parade sponsor. His trusty sidekicks, Shaggy, Thelma, Fred and Daphne, will not be there.
“We are really excited this year. We are doing a couple of neat things,” Kehn said.
Foremost is a change in the prize structure for “best of” floats. Instead of giving out the usual 21 prizes, the chamber will award seven awards. Kehn said valuable prizes will be awarded for five of those categories:
• Youth: 50 tickets to Great Escape.
• Nonprofit: SEFCU, a parade sponsor, will award a $500 check to the winner.
• Business: Half-page advertisement in The Gazette.
• Stepping to the Music (band, dance troupe): $500 gift certificate.
• Red Suspender (fire departments): $500 gift certificate from Price Chopper for the department.
The other two categories — Best of Theme and Best of Parade — will receive “fancy plaques,” Kehn said.
Another change is that winners will be announced at the chamber’s award ceremony, usually the second week of December. “The top three from each category will be invited and we will announce the award that night. The others will get certificates,” she said.
The Chamber is trying this approach to thank people for the effort they put into their floats and as an incentive to get others to participate, Kehn said.
The Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corp. will also use the holiday parade to launch its second-annual “shop and dine downtown” promotion. “Starting that day, we are offering a free pass. If you spend $150 in participating downtown locations between the parade date and Dec. 24 and turn in the pass at a participating location, you will get a chance to receive a shopping spree worth $250 and chance to win Proctors tickets,” said DSIC Executive Director Jim Salengo.
People who turn in the pass will also automatically receive a coupon book good for downtown specials between January and March, he said.
“The parade is a good way to get a lot of people here thinking about downtown during the holiday season,” Salengo said. “It pulls from all around the region. When people see downtown all lit up and vibrant with activity, it makes people proud that downtown is coming back.”
Downtown businesses will be open during the parade and many restaurants and entertainment venues will remain open after the parade. Kehn said Proctors has a show scheduled that night.
Prior to the start of the parade, city leaders will light the Holiday Tree positioned in front of Center City at 5 p.m. This is the second year the tree lighting has occurred there. In the past, the tree lighting was at Veterans Park.
Salengo said the DSIC is decorating downtown with kissing balls, wreathes and garlands and many businesses in the district are participating in a storefront decoration contest. The public can select the best storefront for a prize, which is an ad placement in The Gazette, he said.
“We are trying to make the atmosphere down here as festive as possible,” Salengo said. “We want the community to understand there is an alternative to mall shopping and that there are hard-working business owners with great products downtown.”
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