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Schenectady's 'Parade of Lights' set to kick off

Schenectady's 'Parade of Lights' set to kick off

Cool, wet-weather garb is recommended for Daily Gazette Holiday Parade
Schenectady's 'Parade of Lights' set to kick off
The Daily Gazette float, carrying Newsie and Santa Claus, travels along State Street in the 2016 Daily Gazette Holiday Parade
Photographer: Peter Barber/Daily Gazette photographer

Winter coats and wool caps are a smart call for Saturday's 49th Annual Daily Gazette Holiday Parade.

Sunglasses might be another; State Street is going to be bright.

And parade fans should pack their raincoats: The street may also be wet.

"The theme is 'Parade of Lights,' and every entry has been told to light up their floats -- have as much light as possible on their floats," said Bob O'Leary, senior vice president of revenue diversification at The Daily Gazette, which is operating the event in a partnership with the City of Schenectady.

"I would expect every float will be just glowing," O'Leary added. "They'll see this thing from space, I think, and that's the goal. Just have everything be one continuous stream of lights."

The parade begins at 5 p.m. near the Schenectady side of the Western Gateway Bridge. Marchers will proceed up State Street, through the city's downtown section and take a left turn onto Lafayette Street.

2017 Parade Parking Route.jpg

The parade, which will commemorate the 125th anniversary of General Electric Co. in the city, will be packed. Ninety-nine organizations have signed up to participate in the big show, with 20 floats, 18 fire departments and 11 bands on the list. O'Leary said there were no problems as the newspaper planned its first holiday parade.

"It's a challenge, but our team has been tremendous," he said.

People will notice some new additions for the largest evening holiday parade in the Northeast. A warming tent will be in place in the parking lot near Katie O'Byrne's tavern off Erie Boulevard. And three food trucks will open near the parade route: Slidin' Dirty, Mason Jar and Something Different.

Corporate sponsors include General Electric, Price Chopper/Market 32 and MVP Health Care. In addition to The Daily Gazette, media sponsors include iHeartRadio and WRGB-CBS 6.

Elizabeth "Betsie" Hume Lind, chairwoman of the newspaper's board, said The Daily Gazette hopes to build upon parade work done in years past by the Capital Region Chamber of Commerce.

"What we're looking forward to is once again securing the 'wows' from the kids and the families when they see all the lights, all the colors, hear the music and then the grand finale of seeing Santa on top of his house," Lind said during a press conference to announce the parade's theme earlier this month. "We feel our role at The Daily Gazette is helping to build community, and this is the type of event we love to participate in to help build this sense of community."

The elements will likely be a concern. Saturday's high temperature is expected to be in the mid-40s, but rain is likely.

"It looks like rain will be starting in mid-afternoon and it should be raining during the parade on Saturday," said Ray O'Keefe, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albany.

He said chances for rain are 70 percent during the afternoon and 90 percent during the evening.

"It looks like a steady rain to me," O'Keefe said.

Neither rain, snow, nor wind will keep Santa Claus from greeting his friends, though. The Santa "house" float, with more lights than ever, will close out the procession. 

The parade will disband farther down Lafayette Street.

The 49th Annual Daily Gazette Holiday Parade

When: Starts at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Parade proceeds from Lower State Street to Lafayette Street, Schenectady
Theme: "Parade of Lights: 125 Years of Schenectady"
Starring: Marching bands, floats, people in costume, Santa
Grand Marshall: TrustCo president and CEO Robert J. McCormick

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