Schenectady County's second annual Summer Night attracted thousands of people to the downtown area, filling the 400 block of State Street with music, games, crafts and other sights.
Chairwoman of the Schenectady County Legislature Susan Savage said the event brought in about 8,000 participants, and she was very pleased with the turnout.
Summer Night began at 4:30 p.m. Friday, July 20, with the Bluz House Rockers at the corner of State and Jay streets.
The Schenectady Symphony Orchestra began at 6 p.m. on the main stage, sponsored by Northeastern Fine Jewelry located at the corner of State and Clinton streets. Grand Central Station followed, playing party favorites that got local residents dancing and singing along. Ernie Williams and his blues band took the stage after that.
Besides the music, Summer Night offered entertainment for children, including comedian Patrick Ferri, the Puppet People, hands-on crafts sponsored by the Schenectady Museum and the Scotia-Glenville Children's Museum, a magician and a giant sand sculpture.
Guy Hildreth from Schenectady came to the festival with his children and grandchildren.
This is great. We made some sand art that the kids could eat. The kids enjoy this, and it's an inexpensive night for us, he said.
It took professional sand artist Matt Diebert 12 hours to construct a replica of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from the Harry Potter book series. J.K. Rowling's seventh and final installment of series was released Saturday after midnight.
Sophia Gatta, 10, from Scotia said the sand sculpture was the coolest thing she had seen at the festival, although she isn't a fan of the Harry Potter books. Gatta and her mother, Cathy Gatta, were waiting in line for a soft-serve ice cream cone, and both said they were looking forward to the fireworks, which went off at 9:45 p.m.
Organizers and participants said Schenectady County's Summer Night brought a breath of life into a once dead area of downtown Schenectady and produced a strong sense of community togetherness.
Michael Landolfo of Schenectady said the event was a great idea and a great way to bring people together.
"They should have done this sooner," he said. "The music is good and the camaraderie is really nice. It's good to see the city finally come together."