A holiday tradition is set to return next month following last year’s pandemic-induced hiatus.
The Schenectady Holiday Parade is expected to bring upwards of 15,000 people into the downtown area when it kicks off on Nov. 20 at 5 p.m. This year’s installment will have a “superheroes” theme, honoring essential workers at the forefront of the pandemic while providing fun for all who attend.
“We’re really just excited to announce that we will be having the parade this year,” said Mayor Gary McCarthy. “We’re going through a period of time dealing with issues of COVID that no one thought we’d be dealing with, but Schenectady, like many communities, is bouncing back, and we’re proud to be able to have this tradition in our downtown.”
This year’s event will mark the 52nd installment of the holiday parade, and will be honoring those who made the gathering possible again, said Bob O’Leary, vice president of advertising for The Daily Gazette, a longtime sponsor of the parade.
“It was a sad thing not to be together last year that we were not able to be together for the parade,” he said. “That makes the return of it this year very special. Perhaps the most important addition to the parade this year is our theme, which celebrates the people that made that possible: The heroes in our community.”
Rodelin “Rodel” Sumiran, a full-time nurse in the intensive care unit at Ellis Hospital, will serve as grand marshal for the parade. He was voted the 2021 Nurse of the Year by Daily Gazette readers, and is an adjunct instructor for Ellis Medicine – Belanger School of Nursing.
He said it was the first time he has been recognized for his work in 17 years.
“I actually share this award not only with my family but also with the many nurses on the frontlines of this pandemic,” Sumiran said during a press conference at City Hall Tuesday.
Sumiran said the holiday parade has become a yearly tradition since his family migrated to Schenectady from the Philippines seven years ago.
“Every year we’ve been looking forward to it,” he said. “It was something that was initially new, but as we stayed here, and it’s become our home, we look forward to it. It’s actually the best way to start the holidays.”
All attendees are being encouraged to wear a mask in order to help prevent the spread of the virus, said Kaci Palleschi, the event’s coordinator for The Daily Gazette.
Prior to the parade kicking off, Madison VanDenburg, a Cohoes native and season 17 American Idol finalist, will be performing a selection of songs, including the debut of her latest Christmas single, “Light of Christmas,” from the balcony on the corner of Jay and State streets.
“I thought it was such an incredible honor to be part of something in the community,” she said. “The Capital Region has always been my home, so to be able to perform it live for the first time for everyone in the Capital Region was something that was really close to my heart and was important to me.”
Price Chopper/Market 32, First New York Federal Credit Union, the Capital Region Chamber of Commerce and the city of Schenectady are also sponsoring the event.