SCHENECTADY — With the holiday season fast approaching, city officials are planning to light up the downtown area.
To commemorate the return of the Schenectady Holiday Parade, the city will be adding additional lighted wreaths and trees down State Street, and encouraging businesses to decorate their storefronts as part of the aptly named “Illuminocity” celebration. The parade is set to return on Saturday following last year’s pandemic-induced hiatus.
The idea to light up the Electric City is twofold: To spark economic activity in the downtown area, but to give back to local nonprofits during the holiday season, according to Mayor Gary McCarthy.
“Schenectady has a long tradition of over half a century with the Holiday Parade,” McCarthy said, during a press conference Monday. “We’re looking to expand that and really bring more vibrancy throughout the downtown throughout the entire holiday season, giving people a reason to shop, stop at the venues and maybe just come down and look at the lights that are going to be part of Illuminocity.”
A total of 19 businesses have registered to decorate their storefronts downtown. Each business has been partnered with a local nonprofit, including the Boys & Girls Club, Schenectady ARC, Hamilton Hill Art Center and Miracle on Craig Street, to name a few.
The number of participating businesses is expected to grow. The last day to register is Monday. Decorations must be installed by Friday.
A competition will then be held throughout the holiday season to determine which businesses have the best decorations in a range of categories. The Daily Gazette will also hold voting for a “People’s Choice” category online between Nov. 19 and Jan. 3.
Cash prizes will be awarded to first-, second-and third-place winners, with the “People’s Choice” having just one winner. The prizes will then be donated to the nonprofit aligned with each charity.
A brief description of the categories, which will be decided by a panel of judges, include:
- Most creative
- Schenectady pride
- Technical challenge
- Most animated
- The Griswolds
For additional information, visit: downtownschenectady.org.
National Grid is the presenting sponsor of Illuminocity. MVP Health Care, Pioneer Bank and Union College are also sponsoring the event.
Watch the announcement
“This is a big endeavor for us, bigger than what we typically do,” said Laurie Poltynski, a regional director for National Grid. “With our partnership with Smart City, it seemed to make sense.”
The Schenectady Smart City initiative seeks to upgrade aging infrastructure with modern, energy-efficient technologies. National Grid is working to install LED lights and other smart technologies on street lights throughout the city.
Poltynski encouraged those looking to decorate for the holiday season to use LED lights instead of incandescent bulbs, which are far less energy efficient.
Meanwhile, the event will bring visitors to the downtown area, and will give back during the holiday season, said James Salengo, executive director of the Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corp. The Improvement Corp. helped partner the businesses and nonprofits.
“It’s a combination of a nice visual thing encouraging people to come downtown, but also giving back to the not-for-profits during the holiday season, which is the season of giving,” he said.
Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.