There will be a chill in the air – and snow on the ground – for tonight's Fidelis Care Holiday Parade.
The annual march up State Street, which is celebrating 50 years of good cheer, begins at 5 p.m.
Price Chopper/Market 32 and Mohawk Honda join Fidelis Care as major sponsors of the event.
The parade will begin at Schenectady County Community College and proceed up State Street. Marchers, firetrucks, floats, dancers and musicians all will turn left onto Lafayette Street before disbanding in the parking lot of the Bechtel Plant Machinery Co.
Cold nights are common for the late-autumn parade, but snow has rarely been on the ground for the spectacle. The 5.5 inches of snow that fell on the city Thursday night into Friday morning is a cool decoration for the city and a sight that will make Santa Claus feel right at home.
"We get these early-season snowstorms; they're not unprecedented," said Christina Speciale, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albany. "On the whole, we get them maybe in late November. This one was a few weeks early."
Speciale said temperatures will be in the upper 30s in Schenectady when the parade starts. Snow is not in the forecast.
Big stars in the big show include grand marshal Jeff Haraden, president of Mohawk Honda; Big Bird, a 20-foot tall balloon also sponsored by Price Chopper/Market 32; and Mr. Claus in his red sleigh, atop a lighted house.
The 12-division parade is expected to last two hours.
People planning to attend can park vehicles at the Amtrak Lot at Erie Boulevard and Liberty Street and lots at Liberty Street and Broadway. The Broadway surface lot and a similar lot at Liberty and Franklin Streets are also available, as is the Broadway parking garage.
A pre-parade festival will begin at 2 p.m. on Jay Street, near City hall. That will continue until the start of the parade.
If parade fans are downtown early, they can watch Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy perform the ceremonial lighting of the Christmas tree in front of Johnny's restaurant at State and Jay streets.
The tree lights will be turned on just before 5 p.m. City light displays will be turned on at the same time: Alex Sutherland, Schenectady's director of operations, said the clock tower at City Hall will be bathed in gold lights, a new option, thanks to a new lighting system.
"The State Street rail bridge will also be lit up in gold simultaneously," Sutherland said.
A live video feed, provided through city of Schenectady cameras, will be available online here.
The Daily Gazette will also produce video of parade activity. Reports are planned for Facebook at about 4:15 p.m. and shortly after the parade begins.
In addition to Fidelis, Price Chopper/Market 32 and Mohawk Honda, other parade sponsors include Schenectady County Community College, Schenectady County, Brown Transportation, ROTC, National Grid, Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corp, 1009th Airlift Wing, Key Bank, Schenectady County ARES EC, Mohawk Ambulance, DoubleTree by Hilton, 1st National Bank of Scotia, Marshall and Sterling, SEFCU and DeLorenzo, Grasso and Dalmata, LLP.
Media sponsors include television's Fox 23 and News10 and radio stations Fly 92.3, B95.5, Alt 104.9, 100.9 The Cat, Jamz 96.3 and Magic 590 AM.
The Fidelis Care Holiday Parade
WHERE: State Street, downtown Schenectady.
WHEN: Parade starts at 5 p.m.
DURATION: 2 hours
PUBLIC PARKING: Amtrak lot at Erie Boulevard and Liberty Street; Liberty Street and Broadway; Broadway Parking Garage; Broadway Surface Lot; lot at Liberty and Franklin.
TRAVEL: Streets surrounding the parade route will begin to close at 3 p.m.
Contact Daily Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]