Chances are pretty good that the builders of the Nott Memorial and St. John the Evangelist Church didn’t have the time constraints Matthew Deibert had Friday.
And it’s doubtful they had to construct these structures in a steady rain like the New Jersey sand sculptor faced on State Street Friday. But at least Deibert had the benefit of a tarpaulin to stretch over his handiwork, which included both Schenectady landmarks.
“It’s only one day,” he said of the time he had to build the nearly 6-foot-tall sand sculpture. “Normally, this would be a two- or three-day job.”
Deibert was among a host of artists, vendors and musicians that braved lingering showers for Schenectady County’s fourth annual SummerNight celebration. Despite the damp weather, several thousand people turned out for the event and even lingered with umbrellas and raincoats amid what became a steady downpour during the early evening hours.
Organizers were pleased with the turnout, even though the crowd that nearly filled the street at the beginning of the event had thinned to only a handful toward the end. Many sought cover at Proctors, where several of the acts were moved once it became clear that the rain would not let up.
Proctors’ arcade was packed with revelers who moved freely between the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra performance in the main theater and the musical acts near the box office. Others flooded into downtown restaurants and businesses, keeping many of them bustling throughout the evening.
“Some people are ducking into the movie theater; some are ducking into restaurants,” said Susan Savage, chairwoman of the Schenectady County Legislature. “It’s still a great night.”
Bombers Burrito Bar was one of the many businesses that ended up filled to capacity as the rain refused to let up. Restaurant Manager Jim Vann said his restaurant was busy enough with customers inside that he decided to break down the vending tent he had set up for the event outside.
“There was a line out of nowhere and all of the tables were full,” he said. “It’s probably better that it rained.”
Gray skies and rain didn’t deter James Nicklaw of Schenectady from attending the event this year. He and his wife, Sharon, returned to SummerNight for their second time after enjoying the bands, food and sights during last year’s event.
“Actually, this is a good night,” he said while taking refuge underneath a Jay Street awning. “There’s no hail, there’s no wind; it’s not that bad.”
Likewise, Stockade residents Lyn Gordon and Gloria Kishton weren’t about to let the weather spoil their stroll through the festivities. Kishton warded off the weather with an umbrella and a smile.
“It’s not like there’s lightning; it’s not like there’s thunder,” she said. “We’re not going to melt.”
County spokesman Joe McQueen said the initial attendance was on par with or possibly even better than previous years. He was impressed by the number of people who stayed through the rainfall.
“We’re pretty pleased with the turnout,” he said. “Given the circumstances, it’s still relatively successful.”