Kids, adults celebrate Nearly New Year in Schenectady

Live music and laser light show draws families and community
A laser light show capping off the first Nearly New Years Celebration was held in Gateway Park at Washington and State streets.
A laser light show capping off the first Nearly New Years Celebration was held in Gateway Park at Washington and State streets.

Despite frigid winds, the inaugural Nearly New Year’s Eve attracted approximately 200 people to Gateway Park Saturday night.

The event, which featured live musical acts and a laser light show, drew families and community enthusiasts to the event, which was organized by Schenectady County and Discover Schenectady.

Marna Redding, who works for the Schenectady County Chamber of Commerce, brought out her “little people” to the event, son Jack, 8, and daughter Lulu.

“I’m five!” Lu Lu Redding proclaimed, standing next to the miSci table, operated by the Schenectady-based Museum of Innovation and Science.

Marna Redding explained why her family traveled from their home in Niskayuna to attend the event.

“We live here, so it was something fun to do with the kids — to celebrate the New Year — and we thought it was a good way to support the community. We braved the cold,” she said. “We went to the Union hockey game to right here, so we went from one cold area to another one. We live here, right? It is what it is.”

The miSci table featured a thermal imaging camera that helped people to see exactly how cold they were. MiSci employee Kurt Beecher explained the science behind the heat imaging.

“We can see how people’s skin [shown in bright red] is really, really warm. They’re losing heat through their skin, but their jackets are nice and warm,” he said.

Jack Redding didn’t mind the cold. “I thought it was pretty cool, [the thermal imaging camera] shows my body heat,” he said. 

One of Nearly New Year’s sponsors was MVP Healthcare, which handed out glowing amulets at its table. Other sponsors included Redburn Development, Price Chopper & Market 32, Sunmark FCU, and Legere Restoration and the Schenectady Armory Center.

Another children-oriented feature of Nearly New Year’s was the Create Community Studios tent, which included glow-in-the-dark face paint, a mural children were encouraged to draw on black paper and actresses in costumes that evoke winter-themed animated movies. Create Community Studios Director Heather Hutchison said her tent gave children and adults opportunities to light up the cold December night using the “black lights” under the tent to reflect off the glow-in-the-dark paint.

“It’s been fantastic, we’ve had a great response. Everyone is having a good time. It’s dark out, and glow-in-the-dark stuff makes everything bright,” she said.

For adults, members of the Schenectady Ale Trail pop-up: Back Barn Brewing Company, Druthers Brewing Company, Frog Alley Brewing Company, Great Flats Brewing, Mad Jack Brewing Company and Wolf Hollow Brewing Company. The event served as a debut for the Discover Schenectady Ale Trail app, available at the Discover Schenectady website, which provides a coupon for a “flight” of beers, essentially a beer tasting, at each of the local brewers on the trail.

Joe McQueen, spokesman for Schenectady County, said Nearly New Year’s is an experiment to see if an outdoor family-oriented event in late December can work. He said the idea came about in part because county officials realized there was an opportunity in a weekend coming directly before the New Year’s Day holiday. 

“We thought, what if we do something the weekend before New Years? And maybe that becomes our county event, that people can look forward to every year. When New Year’s actually falls on a weekend, we’ll have to figure that out,” McQueen said.

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