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Canalside attendance rose by one-third this summer

Canalside attendance topped 1.5 million visitors this summer, as people flocked to the waterfront to exercise, drink beer, go to concerts or relax in an Adirondack chair.

And, of course, they also got to see the world’s largest rubber duck.

Meanwhile, the Outer Harbor attracted 250,000 visitors, according to Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp.

“The success at Canalside and the Outer Harbor shows how these two unique locations can play off of one another, giving visitors even more ways to enjoy the waterfront,” said Robert Gioia, the agency’s chairman.

The tracked visitation includes attendance at ticketed and non-ticketed events, as well as those boating, riding bikes and walking along the waterfront.

Among the highlights:

• The Thursday night concert series drew 133,000 people, led by hip hop artist T-Pain’s crowd that was estimated to be 40,000 people on Aug. 18.

• The World’s Largest Rubber Duck attracted over 100,000 people to get a picture of the duck in the harbor.

• Canalside boat tours had about 20,000 customers.

• The Queen City Bike Ferry carried nearly 55,000 people across the river.

• More than 14,000 people attended exercise BlueCross Blue Shield exercise classes.

• Over 4,000 people attended Tuesday Night Flix and the Music and Dance series.

• Nearly 10,000 visitors created unique works of art at the Art Space.

• There were 148,000 visitors to Buffalo Harbor State Park.

In addition, and just a bike ferry ride away, the newly-created Outer Harbor Management Group brought 250,000 people to the Outer Harbor, fueled by activities and a beer garden at Wilkeson Pointe. Attendance numbers were reported from different sites on a daily basis by U.S. Security, a firm hired by site manager Spectra, according to waterfront agency spokeswoman Pamm Lent. She said counting the numbers of people was a required part of the job.

Attendance also came from ticketed events and large non-ticketed events, with counting clickers used at all three entry points.

Some event attendance numbers were provided by the Buffalo Police Department, such as the overflow crowd at the T-Pain concert.

Activity participants from exercise, art and childrens’ groups provided attendance figures. So did vendors.

Lent acknowledges there could be overlap at times, but said a considerable effort was made to track and get the attendance numbers right.

Among those counted were young people caught up in this summer’s Pokemon craze.

“We had a lot of Pokemon players this year,” Lent said. “I thought it was fun, and when we showed up to get ready for the rubber duck that morning, at 4 a.m., there were people playing Pokemon.”

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Canalside’s attendance increased by one-third in 2015.

“Buffalo’s transformed waterfront is an engine of Western New York’s resurgence that continues to fuel tourism, create jobs and increase economic opportunity for the entire region,” Cuomo said in a statement. “I urge all visitors from across New York and beyond to experience these great Queen City attractions for themselves and see why Buffalo is a city on the move.”

email: msommer@buffnews.com

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