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Fidelis Care Holiday Parade in Schenectady draws big downtown crowd

Fidelis Care Holiday Parade in Schenectady draws big downtown crowd

Mild temperatures and snow help turnout
Fidelis Care Holiday Parade in Schenectady draws big downtown crowd
Santa Claus makes his appearance at the end of the 50th annual Holiday Parade on State Street Saturday.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

SCHENECTADY -- With snow on the ground setting a holiday mood, and the temperature a tolerable 39 degrees, a robust crowd of people came out to watch the Fidelis Care Holiday Parade on State Street Saturday night. 

Schenectady resident Kerrie McGovern, originally from Queens, attended the parade with her friend Nicole Nicastro from the Poughkeepsie area. Both were dressed for winter conditions, Nicastro in a fur-lined jacket and McGovern wearing a knit cap and gloves. McGovern said she's lived locally for about eight years and attended the parade each of the last five years. She said the weather was clearly better than past years. 

"The weather is tolerable, so you can stand down here without it being freezing. That's obviously helped the turnout, this is a great crowd," she said. 

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The parade began at Schenectady County Community College at 5 p.m. and proceeded down State Street. The 12 division lineup of the parade included local high school marching bands, firetrucks from 17 local fire departments, floats, dancers, musicians and the Santa Claus float, hosted by The Daily Gazette. 

Major sponsors for the parade, which is celebrating its 50th year, include Fidelis Care, Price Chopper/Market 32 and Mohawk Honda. Mohawk Honda President Jeff Haraden served as grand marshall. 

Patti Toukatly of Rotterdam attended the parade with her three small children -- 7-year-old twins Hannah and Brooke, and 4-year-old Derek. The family came to support Patti Toukatly's oldest daughter, 14-year-old Sara Toukatly, who plays the trumpet in the Mohonasen High School marching band. Toukatly positioned her kids on top of the traffic signal control box near Proctors, which was painted in June by members of the Schenectady Arts Society to include images of the comedy and tragedy as well as musical symbols and the silhouette of a ballerina on stage. 

From on top of the box the children had a good view  of the parade. 

Brooke said she liked what she saw. 

"I like a lot of the floats. I liked the firetrucks. I liked the Big Bird one a lot!" she exclaimed.

The 20-foot Big Bird float was sponsored by Price Chopper/Market 32. It commemorated the 50-year anniversary of both Sesame Street and the downtown Holiday Parade. Big Bird is gold colored, like the symbolic metal for 50th anniversaries.
One somber moment came when the 75-foot lighted train float from Amsterdam's Kristy Pollak Memorial Light Display stopped and conducted a moment of silence in honor of the 20 people killed on Oct. 6 in a limousine crash in Schoharie. Many of the victims of the crash were from Amsterdam. 

Schenectady resident Dwayne Olds said he's probably been to at least 25 of the 50 Holiday Parades in Schenectady. He said this year's weather was "very seasonal" and he was glad to see local politicians participating in the parade.

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"Tonight was the best (parade) ever. The decorations have been great," Olds said. 

Some of the other parade sponsors included 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.

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