SCHENECTADY Kathe Sheehan has marched in the Gazette Holiday Parade dressed as a gorilla, a clown, a reindeer, and even the back end of a cow. But this time, she’ll appear as something completely different — the parade’s grand marshal.
Sheehan, who owns The Costumer, will kick off the Nov. 17 parade at 5 p.m., riding in a horse-drawn carriage. Next in line will be a Costumer float festooned with 50 costumed characters, and following that will be all sorts of magical things.
More than 100 floats, marching bands, community organizations, businesses and dance troupes are expected to take part in the two-hour-long parade, which is held no matter what the weather.
45th annual Gazette Holiday Parade
WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 17, 5 p.m., rain, snow or shine
WHERE: The parade will start at Schenectady County Community College and proceed east on State Street to the corner of Lafayette Street, at the foot of Veterans’ Park.
PARKING: Free parking will be available at:
• The Broadway Parking Garage
• The Broadway Surface Lot
• The lot at the corner of Broadway and Franklin Street
• The Amtrak parking lot at the corner of Erie Boulevard and Liberty Street
• The lot at the corner of Erie Boulevard and Liberty Street North
• Schenectady ARC’s parking lot off South Church Street
• The lot next to Kentucky Fried Chicken, 109 State St., which is accessible from Liberty Street
• The city lot between Liberty and Franklin streets
ROAD CLOSURE: State Street from the Western Gateway Bridge to Nott Terrace will be closed to traffic starting at 4 p.m.
The theme for this year’s event, “Magic and Myths,” is a perfect fit for Sheehan, whose company has outfitted actors, trick-or-treaters and party-goers in creative costumes for 95 years. She wouldn’t reveal much about the premise behind The Costumer’s float, but said it had something to do with theater, and is a take-off on Shakespeare.
“My employees are very enthusiastic about it. They’ve been working on it for a long time,” she said.
Other participants have taken a shine to the parade’s theme as well, said parade coordinator Gail Hopper, of the Chamber of Schenectady County.
“It’s something that people are really excited about. It’s just so popular now — wizards and Harry Potter and all that kind of fantasy,” she said.
There will be plenty to see in the parade, she promised.
“There are some really fancy, professional floats; there are a few like you would see in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but a lot of them are just great groups who are excited and are a part of the community and just want to be out there. We’ve got everything. We’ve got dancing firemen! It’s just a great event,” she said.
Marching bands, including those from Mohonasen High School, Draper Middle School and Schenectady High School, will fill the night air with music. The Capital District Marching Band and the Empire State Youth Orchestras will make appearances as well, and troupes from the Ferrara Dance Studio and The Dance Studio will show off their fancy footwork along the route.
The parade will end with an appearance by the most magical guy ever to wear a red, velvet suit — Santa Claus. The jolly old elf will ride on a float provided by The Daily Gazette.
No matter what the theme, every year, the parade brings magic to Schenectady, and it’s a great way to showcase the revitalized downtown, said Dan Beck, the Gazette’s general manager.
“To see the thousands of people in the street and to see the kids’ faces light up and to see the excitement of celebrating the beginning of the Christmas season — it’s a fun night,” he said.
Hopper agreed: “This is just old-fashioned fun. It’s free, and you can bring the family. What more could you ask for? It’s a great way to kick off the holidays.”