Young children and their parents lined the halls inside City Hall in Schenectady waiting excitedly to have their photos taken with Santa Claus, one of many attractions offered downtown on Saturday afternoon for Schenectady's City Hall-iday celebration.
Sponsored annually by the Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corp., the early season holiday event brings in various free activities for both children and their families.
Hosted in and outside Schenectady’s City Hall from noon to 4 p.m. were hands-on activities and holiday crafts, balloon art and face painting.
Outside were hayrides around the building, hot cocoa to be sipped - or slurped, and a large tent hosting vendors from the Capital Region. Participants waited outside City Hall for their turn to ride through the streets, some cupping hot chocolate in both hands or holding the hands of their children.
At the central branch of the Schenectady County Public Library were more refreshments, crafts, giveaways, and a viewing of the the classic holiday film of "How The Grinch Stole Christmas."
Photos: City Hall-iday had something for everyone, Dec. 8, 2018
Also featured as part of the celebration was a "Chili Chowdown and Craft Brew Trail" from noon to 5 p.m., and a reptile exhibit, in which youngsters could visit with real lizards and snakes and learn about them.
The photos with Santa, among other parts of the day, including the face painting, said Betsy Sandberg, chair of the Kids Art Festival in Schenectady, was particularly popular and exciting for both youngsters and parents because its easily accessible and affordable.
"That's a big deal for people, because it's free," Sandberg said.
While children waited in the halls to have their pictures taken, the streets outside City Hall were just as busy, filled with shoppers who were taking advantage of the cold but calm weather to get their holiday shopping finished.
Stores on Jay Street, including the Open Door Bookstore, were packed with people browsing shelves and making their way to the register with purchases.
Jim Salengo, executive director of the Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corp., said City Hall-iday is usually well attended each year, with youngsters particularly eager to have their photos taken with Santa Claus.
The clear weather on Saturday though, he said, seemed to have enticed even more people to venture outside of their homes for the shopping portion of the day, and the restaurant-centered portions of the day as well.
"Good weather helps. There are tons of people outside, walking around. That's always great to see," Salengo said.