SCHENECTADY – After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic Schenectady County is bringing back a fan-favorite event – SummerNight.
The block party started 17 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.
Details about the music event have remained under wraps, including the actual date of the event.
“My colleagues on the Legislature and I have made it a priority to bring back Schenectady County’s SummerNight, the Capital Region’s biggest summer block party this year after a 2-year hiatus due to the pandemic,” said Legislator Cathy Gatta, the chairwoman of the Tourism, Arts and Special Events Committee. “While details are still being worked out, we hope to make an announcement in the coming weeks and look forward to hosting this free event that draws visitors from all over the Capital Region to our community.”
Officials are excited.
“We’re glad it’s coming back,” said Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy. “It’s a good family event.”
The event is not only a sign of summer but that “we’re moving back to what I call a different normal,” McCarthy said.
City police will staff the entire event, but McCarthy said in prior years the crowd has been well-behaved.
“I’m not anticipating any problems,” he said. “It’s a good night out.”
On a personal level, Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corp. Executive Director Jim Salengo loves listening to the music and watching everyone have a good time. But it’s also great to see more events coming back to downtown in general, he said.
“Clearly it’s one of downtown’s most anticipated events every year, not being able to have that and not being able to have so many other things over the last couple of years it’s really super to start having kind of our event calendar downtown get back to a little bit of normalcy,” he said.
Both the Soup Stroll and Restaurant Week have been able to happen this year as well.
“Having these things return and then having the county’s big event in the summer is going to be great,” Salengo said. “I honestly think the community and all of our businesses down here are ready for a big celebration after the last two years.”
Salengo said the event is an opportunity to reintroduce people to downtown again.
“I think when people are coming down for the event there’s quite a few people who plan on spending the afternoon and the evening downtown,” he said.
He said businesses right in the area where the event is taking place get a lot of exposure, but so do other businesses on the outskirts, like Frog Alley and 151 Bar and Restaurant. Salengo said after the event people will spill over to other businesses to continue enjoying the night.
“I think it ejects a really great positive feeling about the community that lasts well beyond the event itself,” Salengo said. “People come down, they have a great time, they see the businesses, they see the liveliness and I think it really hits home that Schenectady has come such a long way to the positive and is a really great place to live and to visit and to work and to play.”
The announcement comes as the county has seen a decline in COVID numbers.
Schenectady County, like most other areas of New York state, had a huge spike of COVID activity in early 2022. More than 8,000 positive tests were recorded among its residents in January alone, a quarter of the total during the two-year pandemic.
The metrics are substantially better now — new infections are coming in at a rate of one to three dozen a day instead of a few hundred a day.
Last week, the county’s seven-day average of positive lab-confirmed tests was 2.7%, down from a peak of 20.2%. And Ellis Hospital had seven COVID-positive inpatients, down from a January peak of 51.
The county’s first event this year, the Pedal-Paddle Run, will take place 8 a.m. May 14 at Aqueduct Park, according to a press release from the county. The timed event includes seven miles of biking, about two miles of kayaking/canoeing and a 5k run. Participants can compete in the race both individually or on a team. People must be 16 or older to participate.
Early registration is open until April 29 and costs $25 per participant. After that the price will increase to $30 per participant. More information can be found at www.schenectadycounty.com/ppr.
Gazette reporter John Cropley contributed to this article.
Reporter Shenandoah Briere can be reached at sbr[email protected]. Follow her on twitter at SB_DailyGazette.