SCHENECTADY – There will be a whole lot of wonderful things to see and hear at this year’s 53rd Holiday Parade on Saturday — marching bands, dance troupes, spiffy firetrucks and more than 100 floats with one carrying Santa Claus. But for the first time, there will be a pre-parade block party with live music.
“We are emerging out the back end of COVID and we were asking, ‘what are we looking for?’ ” said Jason Lecuyer, Schenectady County’s special events director. “We thought it’s to follow your dream . . . to dream big. It’s like what you told your kids to reach for the stars. That ties into everybody. We didn’t want to have another parade where it was just firetrucks, so we diversified the parade this year to have more engagement with the community.”
Thus, at 3 p.m. the pre-parade block party will start with national recording artist pop star/songwriter Ryan Cabrera, and Capital Region emerging artist singer/songwriter Girl Blue performing at a mainstage under the Proctors marquee. MVP, the parade’s sponsor, will be passing out gloves and handwarmers, and holiday mythical characters dressed by The Costumer will be walking about available for selfies.
That need to diversify also tied into the handover that was made in July when The Daily Gazette, which in the past decades had produced the parade, passed it over to Schenectady County.
“It’s been a sprint since the transition,” Lecuyer said.
Cathy Gatta, county legislator and chair of the tourism, arts and special events committee, agreed.
“It was a big change especially trying to get floats from all over the county rather than just the city,” she said.
Floats will also be coming from many places in the Capital Region, even from as far as Kingston, Lecuyer said, adding that last year there were only 65 floats, so it’s a “big jump” to getting more than 100.
The invitation to involve the entire county also extended to fire departments, which this year will number 16; and dance troupes that include Triple Threat Athletics, Dance Me, Merritt Dance Center, Ferrara Dance Studio and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School’s Step Team.
Among the numerous floats or those walking there will be many who have never participated. Those include the New York State Thruway Authority; Miss New York, who is Taryn Smith, with the YWCA; the Schenectady City School District with 11 entries; and the Mariaville Civic Association’s 30-foot pirate ship evoking “Peter Pan.” Its members will be singing “I Won’t Grow Up.”
“It’s the coolest thing I’ve even seen,” Lecuyer said.
Also participating are the Al Tabari Court Youth Group, Miranda Real Estate Group, and the Hill City Ice Queen Princess Parties’ Cinderella Carriage. The Hill City group is based in Oneonta.
There will be several organizations familiar to many: the 120-member Amsterdam High School Rams marching band called the “Pride of Amsterdam.”
They’ll be joined by the Schenectady city schools jazz band, Albany City School District Marching Falcons, Schalmont’s marching band and high school and middle school marching bands from Mohonasen.
Madelyn Thorne, the executive director for Habitat for Humanity of Schenectady County, is the parade’s grand marshal and will be at the head of the floats; Santa Claus will be on the last float.
The parade starts at 5 p.m. near SUNY Schenectady and proceeds down State Street and turns onto Lafayette Street.