Braving the Polar Plunge'

LAKE GEORGE Minutes after floating chunks of ice were pushed aside Sunday afternoon, friends Kathy Heider and Leslie Dunn, dressed in swimwear, jogged down a snow bank and jumped into the frigid waters of Lake George. The duo were among about two dozen who braved the cold for the traditional Polar Plunge event of the Lake George Carnival. These hardy swimmers took a quick frigid dip at Shepard Park, while hundreds of bundled-up spectators of all ages cheered. The two ran out of the water fast, their skin displaying a pink hue that suggested pain. We thought it would be empowering, but it it just plain hurt, said Heider, who regularly swam in lake George in all seasons but Winter since she was a child. Minutes earlier, Michael Chimiak gritted his teeth and twisted the thottle of his snomobile. The machine jerked forward with its engine growling. He sped across the open water of Lake George, just several feet away from the dock at Shepard Park, where hundreds of people watched his stunt. A volunteer for the Carnival for 10 years, hes had plenty of opportunity to practice this snowmobile water skipping. Chimiak said this past weekends installment of the annual four-weekend Carnival drew the most spectators for 2008. The weather was no help. The lake ice wasnt thick enough for the Snowcross races, which were relocated to Queensbury, across the road from Warren Countys Floyd Bennett airport. But plenty of people enjoyed the childrens games and the events Mardi Gras parade Sunday was also a hit, organizers said. This weekends Carnival events This coming weekends installment of the Carnival is the last for 2008. To date, motorized races scheduled for the frozen surface of the lake have been relocated, because ice wasnt a full 12 inches thick. But Carnival official Linda Duffy predicted Wednesday that the lake ice would be thick enough to support a full slate of activities, including the weekends signature event, car ice racing sanctioned by the Adirondack Motor Enthusiast Club. An official of the Group, Dave Durnham, said dozens of racers were enthusiastic about participating. Our races on Lake George are like our Daytona 500 or our Superbowl, he said, adding his organization has been racing on Lake George since 1965. Every year, we cant wait to compete on the lake. The Motor Enthusiasts Club races include both street-legal vehicles and ones built specifically to race on the ice, with engines up to 500 horsepower. There are racing classes for cars both with and without studded tires. Duffy said ice-depth measurements would be taken within the following 36 hours to determine what could be held on the lakes surface. Im optimistic well have a full 12 inches by this weekend, she said. Regardless of the ice depth, the scheduled ATV drag races will be held this Sunday, she said. These Grudge matches of four-wheelers, beginning at 10 a.m., are open to anyone who registers earlier in the morning. This weeks activities also feature whats turned out to be a family favorite -- snowmobile sleigh rides, which are set for 12 noon to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Childrens activities and family-oriented games, and ice-diving demonstrations are scheduled for both days. Also on Saturday and Sunday, is a GPS Scavenger hunt. Those interested in the latter may check out details at www.trailpass.com. Chefs are urged to compete in a chili cook-off to be held Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. Both Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m., spectators will be treated to the water skip show, followed by the traditional Polar Plunge at 3 p.m.

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