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Carnival celebrates 50 years

LAKE GEORGE - Lake George Winter Carnival opens this weekend with ideal ice conditions, a full lineup of activities, and praise from local officials on the event's 50th anniversary.

This four-weekend festival of activities on the ice has been staged in Lake George for 50 years, featuring motor vehicle races on ice, children's activities, contests and sports games on the lake's frozen surface, and spectator events including the popular weekend polar plunges.

Event organizers said Monday they were enthusiastic about this year's prospects, as prevailing cold weather is building up a hefty sheet of ice so all activities proposed can be held.

"Ice conditions are perfect this year," Ed Kokolas said. "Unlike some past years, in 2011 we'll be having a full schedule of races and events."

Saturday begins with opening ceremonies at noon in Shepard Park complete with a patriotic skydiving salute.

These formalities are followed by the traditional Outhouse Races, a beloved feature of the Carnival since 1983. The competition begins at 12:30 p.m. and race registration starts at 10 a.m. at Duffy's Tavern.

These outhouse races feature teams, sponsored by local taverns, dragging outrageous homemade outhouses on a course down the ice atop Lake George. While spectators enjoy seeing bar employees and patrons scamper full-speed and locally over the ice, the fastest teams in various categories have traditionally enjoyed bragging rights for months in their hometown hangouts.

The Gold Anniversary Parade, which commemorates the 50th year since the Winter Carnival was launched, starts at 4 p.m. Saturday and proceeds from Prospect Mountain Diner northward on Canada St. The parade includes folks garbed in an array of crazy costumes, music, floats, performances along the route, and a trolley carrying over a dozen grand marshals - luminaries of the Carnival from decades past who for either cavorted on ice for spectators, or worked behind the scenes to make the tradition such a success.

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