SCHENECTADY – Schenectady County SummerNight is a no-go this year.
It’s the second year in a row the event hasn’t been held because of the pandemic. The block party started 16 years ago and is typically held sometime in mid-July, drawing upwards of 20,000 people to downtown Schenectady for an evening of live music, food and family-friendly activities.
The event has grown over the years to feature not only local bands but also national acts on several stages, as well as a kids zone and a Schenectady County Battle of the Bands.
According to County Legislator Cathy Gatta, it also takes months of planning to make it all happen.
“Not only does it take a long time but it involves so many different groups, not only within the county but sponsorships, and the vendors, and the restaurants that are there and getting the musicians … there’s so much involved,” Gatta said.
Since pandemic-related restrictions weren’t lifted until a few weeks ago, organizers couldn’t get everything ready in time. Another consideration is whether people would feel comfortable going to a crowded event like SummerNight, Gatta said. In previous years, thousands of people have packed in on State Street to see headlining bands like Smash Mouth and Blues Traveler.
“Even if we were to have it, would people feel comfortable coming to it? It’s typically crammed … that’s tough nowadays,” Gatta said.
This weekend of Independence Day celebrations could be an indicator of how comfortable people are with attending crowded events. In years past, celebrations and firework shows featured at venues like the Empire State Plaza have gathered thousands of onlookers, though it remains to be seen what the turnout will be this year.
At this point, SummerNight organizers are looking ahead to next year hold the event, with a caveat: “Maybe ’22 will look different but we never know what the next week is going to bring, let alone ‘22,” Gatta said.