Not construction, nor road work, nor even the bitter cold will stop the Gazette Holiday Parade on Saturday.
The parade will kick off at 5 p.m. at Schenectady County Community College and head up State Street to Lafayette Street, near Veterans Park.
Lower State Street has been closed since early October for underground utility work, but the hole has been closed up just in time for the parade. At the intersection with Erie Boulevard, also under construction, work has also finished just in time.
But bundle up: It will get progressively colder during the parade. Temperatures will start in the low 30s and fall quickly with strong winds, according to the National Weather Service.
“We actually have an Arctic cold front coming through at that time,” said meteorologist Kevin Lipton. “Right at 5 o’clock. It looks quite blustery. Maybe even a snow squall.”
The theme is the Roaring Twenties, and there will be at least one 22-foot-long, 10-foot-high trolley to recognize the common mode of travel in Schenectady at that time.
Others will showcase what their agencies looked like then, creating a celebration of Schenectady’s history as well as the roaring era.
One float will look like a 1920s ambulance, courtesy of Ellis Medicine. A Model T is expected as well.
There will also be the traditional dancing groups, marching bands and of course lots and lots of fire trucks. One fire company shows up every year to dance shirtless on their rig, no matter what the weather, to the delight of the crowd.
The grand marshals are Joe Dalton and Ed Lewi, who organized the first parade in 1968. They were members of the Schenectady Downtown Merchants Bureau and came up with the idea to draw customers downtown for the holiday season.
For decades, the parade was held on Black Friday. But that became a popular shopping day — and then Schenectady’s downtown grew so much that Broadway shows and other events were bringing crowds on the first Christmas shopping day of the year. So in 2007, the parade was moved to the weekend before Thanksgiving.
That disappointed many out-of-towners who watched every year when they came to Schenectady to celebrate Thanksgiving with their families. But the change allowed many others to attend for the first time, because they always traveled for Thanksgiving.