Chilly tempertures and rain greeted parade-goers on Saturday at the 49th annual Daily Gazette Holiday Parade along State Street in Schenectady.
Fortunately for Ballston Lake resident Karen Burdikoff, who has been coming to the parade for more than 30 years, she enjoyed it inside at the Center City building on State Street like she has for the past five years.
“When I was a kid, I watched it in front of Proctors,” she said. “I can remember looking up at the buildings saying, ‘I wish I was in there staying warm.'”
Burdikoff said the parade has gotten better each year.
“It’s one of the biggest things in the area,” she said. “I hope the tradition keeps going, because it’s great to see the excitement and people having fun.”
Patrick Mangini of Ballston Spa is another longtime parade-goer as he and his family have been attending for the past 31 years.
He used to take his children and is now joined by his grandchildren.
“It’s a tradition in our family and we sit in the same spot under the bridge,” he said. “I hope they continue to get the support to keep it going.”
Christine Powell of Rotterdam bundled up her two children, ages 1 and 5, and brought them to the parade for the first time.
“I just bought a home in Rotterdam and thought my kids might enjoy it,” she said. “There’s a nice crowd and it seems really family-friendly.”
Powell said despite the holiday theme of the parade, she kicked off the holiday season weeks ago.
“We get into the holiday spirit early, because if you start in December, you only have a few weeks,” she said. “We like to enjoy it for as long as possible.”
Mel Teetsel and his wife, Karen, of Niskayuna have been coming to the parade for the past five years.
“It’s been a little warmer in past years, but it’s not bad,” he said of the weather. “I hope they keep hosting it.”
Karen added, “It does a lot for the community and brings people out to the businesses.”
The Happy Cappuccino on Jay Street was bustling on Saturday before the parade began.
Owner Matt Robbins said the business stays open later to accommodate parade-goers who are in search of beverages such as coffee and hot chocolate.
“It’s an awesome night for Schenectady and it’s always a pretty good night for us,” he said of the parade.
Signs that read “Warm up in here” dotted the windows of Lyle’s Hoagies on State Street.
The sandwich shop opened on its day off to serve customers food, hot chocolate and baked goods.
Sydney McCormack said it was her third year helping out at Lyle’s Hoagies.
“It’s usually a really busy night,” she said. “It was a lot warmer last year.”
Family friend Nicolle Ferraro said she felt the crowds were a little lighter this year compared to last.
“It’s normally busier, so I’m not sure if people were scared because of the rain,” she said. “Hopefully there’s nicer weather next year.”
Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said while the parade is always a successful event, the number of people who come out varies with the weather.
“Last year there was better weather, so we had a good crowd,” he said.
McCarthy said that the event breathes life into downtown.
“Downtown was once vibrant and then went through a decline, but there’s been a resurgence of activity,” he said. “This event helps draw people to the businesses in Schenectady.”
McCarthy said he hopes the event continues to grow.
“It has a lot of history of bringing people out,” he said. “We look forward to positioning this as a major family-friendly event that gets local, regional and national attention for years to come.”