State Street in downtown Schenectady will be packed with people, food vendors and live entertainment Friday as SummerNight returns downtown for the eighth year in a row.
The community celebration is expected to draw a large crowd again, with more than 10,000 people expected between Broadway and Barrett Street and in the Jay Street pedestrian mall between 5 and 10 p.m.
“There is so much to do,” said Joe McQueen, a spokesman for Schenectady County. “There are so many aspects that regardless of what your tastes are you will find something that you like.”
All musical performances and activities on State and Jay streets are free, parking included. The only expenses will be for food and the nearby circus performances.
The Zoppé Family Circus is adding to the excitement this year. The more than 100-year-old circus, which stays true to its roots, will perform several shows under the big top next to the Broadway parking garage through the weekend. Tickets can be purchased at the Proctors box office. The first show will begin Friday at 7 p.m., but the circus will bring some of its excitement to State Street at 6 p.m. for a free performance.
Attractions this year include face painters, balloon artists, caricaturists, heart-healthy activities from the Schenectady Boys & Girls Club, hands-on activities from the Scotia-Glenville Children’s Museum and the Museum of Innovation and Science, martial arts demonstrations with Pai’s Tae Kwon Do Academy, the Tri-City ValleyCats Fun Van and the Siena Saints Mobile Experience. A sand sculptor, magician, clown and a juggler are also expected to be favorites.
“The children’s Kid Zone is extremely popular,” McQueen said. “There is so much that the kids can do.”
Food vendors and downtown restaurants will all be open during the celebration. Many restaurants will even be bringing their businesses outside. Vendors this year include traditional summer fair foods, such as fried dough, cotton candy, sausage and peppers, Italian ice and a cupcake cart. The Price Chopper House of BBQ will be there, and Gwenies Breakfast Wagon, which is competing on “Live with Kelly and Michael” to be name the best food cart in the country, will also be at the event.
If it rains, Proctors will welcome everyone inside, according to spokesman Richard Lovrich, but the weather for Friday looks rain-free.
Businesses on Jay Street, like The Happy Cappuccino, look forward to SummerNight.
“We will probably do pretty well,” said employee Brittany Allen. “A day and a half, two days in sales. It is a good way to network.”
Heather Froeschle, another employee of The Happy Cappuccino, agreed. She said SummerNight is a great way to build a customer base.
“It is just a good way to get people down to Schenectady,” she said. “So much has changed around here, and it is really becoming a nicer place to come and hang out.”
Pat Greenwood, owner of Patricia’s Room Vintage & Antiques on Jay Street, feels the same.
“It brings a lot of traffic down,” she said, “so maybe if they don’t buy something that day, they will come back later.”
SummerNight is sponsored by General Electric, as well as The Daily Gazette and Proctors. The evening will culminate with a fireworks display, presented by Price Chopper, as Funk Evolution finishes its performance on the main stage at Clinton and State streets.
A complete listing of events and performances can be found at www.schenectadycounty.com.
“Everyone loves the fireworks. They love the band,” Lovrich said. “I just think it is one of Schenectady’s own traditions — family traditions.”