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Winter Carnival offers new bonfire, dog-sled rides, and kite expo

LAKE GEORGE - It's late January, and in prior years, this would mean a group of Lake George Winter Carnival organizers would be huddled at a local tavern, agonizing over thin ice and a lack of volunteers hampering fun for thousands of visitors and residents.

This year, the organizers are all smiles.

Sub-zero temperatures have provided foot-thick ice on Lake George, and about a dozen area residents have come forward to help run the event which has for decades been the top winter attraction in Lake George.

Monday, Winter Carnival Committee Treasurer Kathi Kokolas talked about the event as she stepped away from a group of happy volunteers gathered at Pizza Jerks restaurant to make plans for the four-weekend Carnival.

"With the thick ice, the enthusiastic volunteers and all the new activities, it will definitely be a fun Winter carnival this year," she said. The thick ice and robust group of volunteers is not all that's a departure from prior years.

Long known for hosting a slew of vehicle races, the Winter Carnival is expanding its offerings in 2009 beyond motorized contests - with stronger emphasis on family fun.

This year, spectators will likely delight in dozens of colorful, creative kites flying in the skies above the frozen lake, as the local chapter of the American Kitefliers Association will be convening Sat. Feb. 21 at the Carnival to both fly their airborne marvels and demonstrate kite-making.

Also, a lineup of games for both children and adults are planned - both cooperative and competitive - but always with an emphasis on fun, Kokolas said. Whether it's Frisbee golf, "ladder ball" or turkey bowling, the games offer entertainment for the whole family, she said. High Schoolers from Warrensburg and Queensbury will be manning the games.

New Sled-dog rides will feature Huskies pulling children over ice for a fee, and snowmobile rides will also be offered, Kokolas said.

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