Schenectady SummerNight 2017 drew more than 20,000 people to the city’s downtown district Friday night, flooding State Street with revelers from throughout the Capital District who came to watch Blues Traveler perform and a fireworks display at the annual summer block party.
Schenectady County District 3 Legislator Cathy Gatta said the event, now in its 10th year, is always a success, but even more so this year as the city is cresting a wave of economic progress.
Gatta said energy is being generated in the city by the recent introduction of ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, the opening of Rivers Casino in February, and the several new bars, breweries and restaurants popping up in the city.
“Everything is a positive move forward. You see one positive thing happen in Schenectady and people say ‘Oh, they have that now? Let’s try this new thing here,’” she said.
Gatta, who chairs the county’s tourism and arts committee, said last year the crowd only thickened when the Gin Blossoms were about to take the stage. This year, around 5 p.m. when the event started, she said “I turned that corner onto State Street and there was already a sea of people.”
Gatta credited the county’s special events director, Jason Lecuyer, for booking Blues Traveler this year and contributing to the event’s success. In addition to the headliner, Lecuyer managed to get three area breweries to collaborate on a “SummerNight Ale.”
“He’s just really good at getting people to work together,” she said.
Lecuyer said the event would not be possible without the dozens of volunteers who show up and the local business sponsors that participate. He added that economic progress in Schenectady is exciting to see and contribute to with events like SummerNight.
“It’s an amazing event when you see our community come together like that, you really can’t beat it,” Lecuyer said. “Slidin’ Dirty, other restaurants and bars, the casino, Uber, Lyft, the trolley, everything just plays into a piece of the bigger puzzle of what we have to offer throughout the entire county.”
Capital Region Chamber of Commerce CEO Mark Eagan said his organization is a huge fan and supporter of SummerNight as well as recent economic developments in Schenectady.
“One of the reasons the chamber is so fond of the event is that it brings the community into the downtown of Schenectady, and not just local residents, but people from throughout the Capital District,” he said. “Really it’s a way to showcase the continuing revitalization and vibrancy in downtown Schenectady.”
Eagan added that a tertiary benefit of SummerNight is that it encourages those from other areas who attend to think of Schenectady the next time they’re looking for something to do.
“It really showcases all that’s good that’s going on in downtown and encourages folks to come back more often,” he said.
While official attendance numbers were unavailable Saturday afternoon, Gatta said she was told by the Schenectady Police Department that the crowd was similar in size to last year’s SummerNight, which drew more than 20,000 people.
Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said the crowd was “exceptionally well-behaved” and there weren’t any major incidents.
“It was just another great success in the long line of great SummerNight events,” he said. “There were apprehensions throughout the day Friday about the weather, but we were smiled upon that the storm front moving across the state had broken up before it got to Schenectady.”
He added that the recent business and entertainment ventures that have come to the city do a good job of working together and collaborating for the overall economic good of the city.
“While there are other venues and options coming into the community and region, they seem to be involving a complementary fashion as opposed to a competitive fashion,” said McCarthy.
The Schenectady Police Department did not respond Saturday to requests for comment about the crowd size or any incidents.