LAKE GEORGE - This weekend, the Lake George Winter Carnival opens with the zany traditional outhouse races, a variety of children's activities, a Radio Disney family show, and the long-standing "Polar Plunge" into the frigid waters of Lake George.
Thousands are expected to attend the Carnival, an annual festival held since 1961 in Lake George Village over the four weekends in February.
Carnival organizer Kathi Kokalas said the ice on the lake was thick enough this year for virtually all activities and fair weather was predicted. It nearly doubled in thickness over the past week, she said.
"This weekend's going to be a great, fun, family event for a lot of different reasons," she said. "I hear the weather's going to cooperate too."
In addition to a full slate of both family activities and vehicular sports, this weekend's Carnival offers a substantial new offering: Radio Disney.
Aimed at youth, the participatory show will include group dancing, karaoke and games for attendees from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Outhouse races, beginning at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, will feature teams, sponsored by local taverns, dragging outrageous homemade outhouses on a course down the ice atop Lake George. The fastest teams in various categories have traditionally enjoyed bragging rights for months in their hometown hangouts..
Both Saturday and Sunday, activities include tethered hot air balloon rides starting at 8:30 a.m. - weather permitting - and a variety of children's activities and fun games on the ice from noon to 2 p.m. A giant ice slide in Shepard Park is available during daylight hours over the weekend.
The Carnival also includes a new Skydiving Swoop Competition daily over the frozen lake.
Also returning are tethered hot-air balloon rides, along with a new balloon "walk-around" for children that want to experience one close-up. This will be set up in the parking lot of King Neptune's tavern, inside which there will be crafts and games. These activities join the pony rides at the Children's Petting Zoo, offered Saturday noon to 2 p.m.