SCHENECTADY — Security and equipment costs for the city were up a little more than $13,000 for the 49th annual Daily Gazette Holiday Parade.
The increased costs reflected heavier security measures that were deemed necessary following terrorist attacks elsewhere that occurred during the year leading up to the parade, according to city officials.
The total security and cleanup cost for the 2016 holiday parade for the city was $36,531.21. The cost for 2017 was a total of $49,728.11.
There was a check presentation during the City Council meeting on Monday, where Trustco Bank Executive Vice President Robert Leonard gave a $5,000 check to Mayor Gary McCarthy as a donation to offset the costs of the parade.
This increased overtime costs for city police officers went from $19,542.44 in 2016 to $24,102.36 in 2017.
City Police Chief Eric Clifford said his department didn’t use any more manpower for the parade, but officers were put in different locations compared with previous years.
For example, instead of having a set of possibly 10 officers monitoring one zone of State Street, where the parade occurred, some were placed on the roofs of buildings for better visibility of any oncoming threats.
“Whenever we put on a large event like this, the safety of those attending is the No. 1 priority, regardless of cost,” Clifford said.
The figures also include equipment used in the security and cleanup of the parade. Some of the equipment used included 10-wheel trucks, garbage trucks, dump trucks and other vehicles.
The total equipment cost in 2017 was $8,464.50 compared to $5,968.50 in 2016.
City Finance Commissioner Anthony Ferrari said the vehicles were not only used in cleanup before and after the parade, but to also block off access points to the parade.
“We used twice as many trucks in 2017 to block intersections,” Ferrari said. “That was another safety measure.”
There was also more manpower provided by the Waste Department, which saw its overtime costs increase from $1,805.29 in 2016 to $6,130.03 in 2017.
These new safety precautions were taken after a man used a rented truck to run down and kill eight people on a bike path in New York City in what authorities called a terrorist attack. This happened just a month before the parade in Schenectady.
The year before that, a terrorist in France drove a cargo truck through crowds celebrating Bastille Day, killing 86 people.
The costs not only reflect manpower and equipment used during the parade, but also the time put in by both.
Ferrari said more time was spent in preparation of the festival and the cleanup afterward.
“They started earlier and stayed longer for security reasons,” Ferrari said. “Police and [the Fire Department] did a great job. We had the equipment out there to make sure everyone was safe.”
The Daily Gazette was also involved in the parade this year.
According to President and Publisher John DeAugustine, the paper was in charge of the cost of promoting the event, providing personnel, and the operation of the event. It was also the paper’s responsibility to collect sponsorship money to offset those costs, DeAugustine said.
All in all, the paper spent a total of $33,000 for outside services, including items such as port-a-potties at the staging area, and between $50,000 to $60,000 for the promotion and operation of the event.
The paper also raised $52,000 in sponsorship and parade entry fees to offset those costs.
DeAugustine said the parade doesn’t bring in much money for the paper, but he sees it as The Daily Gazette’s civic duty to its readers.
“We believe in the parade and have been part of the parade for many years,” DeAugustine said. “We plan on continuing to do it.”
DeAugustine also praised the city for stepping up the security measures for the 2017 parade.
“It’s important for the community to get together like this and feel safe,” DeAugustine said. “It’s wonderful they were able to do that.”