Santa hadn’t even hit State Street Saturday night when children’s cheers rang out, “Santa, Santa!”
As his sleigh slid into sight, smiles slipped across faces, eyes twinkled with delight and little feet could not be kept on the ground.
The joyous, jolly man in red may have closed the highly-anticipated procession through the city streets, but he was kicking off the holiday season.
The Schenectady Holiday Parade, known as the largest nighttime parade in the Northeast, returned Saturday night after a year off, due to the coronavirus pandemic, with a superhero theme that highlight pandemic frontline workers.
It featured the traditional floats and lit up fire trucks, as well as dancers and marching bands.
Many brightly-decorated mobile displays thanked those who served on the frontlines during the pandemic, including police, firefighters, department of public works members and those in medical fields.
This year’s grand marshal was Rodelin “Rodel” Sumiran, an Ellis Hospital intensive care unit nurse.
Crowds of people went about five rows deep. Some watchers started claiming spots near the stage outside Proctors hours before the parade.
Vickye Grey of Paradox was one of those people. She, her 10-year-old daughter Elizabeth, and friends Marc, Angelus and Vinny Pardi were all bundled in blankets sitting in chairs.
Vickye Grey said she used to live in Scotia and had been to the parade before, but wanted to make new memories with her daughter.
“It’s an amazing parade,” she said.
Sarah Onley sat in her chair outside the state office building at 328 State Street waiting for the parade to begin. She said she had her spot scoped out a week ago.
Her plan was to set her GoPro camera up along the railing and videotape the action as it passed.
Further down the route, Jeremy Duquette and his 10-year-old daughter RosaLeigh were in the crowd awaiting the floats for the first time since 2018.
RosaLeigh was excited to see Santa, while her dad was happy the parade was honoring heroes.
“To see all the first-responders is great,” he said. “I’m very grateful it’s back after COVID.”
He said it just isn’t the holidays without the parade.
Tanya Viveiros was also thankful to have the parade back.
“I like seeing the community together,” she said.
She sat not far from the grand stage with her husband Mark and their children, Madison, 12, Jordan, 10, and Ella, 7. Tanya, a Mohonasen High School graduate, said she was looking forward to seeing the Rotterdam school’s marching band makes its annual trip down the parade route.
She added that her girls were actually part of the parade themselves a few years ago with their Girl Scout troop.
This year they were just enjoying seeing all the floats.
Both Jordan and Madison said they loved seeing all the dogs in the parade.
“We’re an animal family,” Tanya Viveiros said, noting they have two puppies.
Of course, the family wasn’t surprised when Ella said she was most elated that Santa was at the parade.
Also excited to end the night with a visit from Santa was 4-year-old Vivian Daskalakis, who was at the parade with her grandma Laura Cataldo and cousin Louisa Bechard. They drove in from Albany to catch all the action.
As floats went by, they waved and smiled. But, when Santa went by, they went wild — grinning from ear to ear.