The Empire State Winter Games unofficially begin today with a torch run taking place throughout the Olympic region.
The games were canceled by the state late last fall amid fiscal concerns, but a consortium of local governments, civic organizations and private businesses has stepped in to continue the winter tradition.
To kick off the Olympic-style event, officials have put together a torch run that will pass through a number of local communities, ending at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid for the opening ceremonies.
Saranac Lake Village Clerk Kareen Tyler organized the torch run, noting that the two-day event is a nod to the region's Olympic heritage.
"We're really doing it so we can take all of the communities that are a part of reviving and keeping the Empire State Games alive and unite them through the torch run and get the games started," she said.
The torch run begins at 9 a.m. Thursday in Elizabethtown at the Essex County Court House with some brief speeches by elected officials and event organizers.
From there, it will stop at the Stewart's Shop in Elizabethtown - Tyler says Stewart's has been one of the biggest private sponsors of the games, as well as Evergreen Auto and others.
"Stewart's is going to host celebrations in all of the communities, handing out hot chocolate and cookies and just welcoming the event to the whole Adirondack region," she said. "Evergreen Auto has donated the use of vehicles to pick up and drop off runners along the way. It's a collective effort - it takes a great deal of money to host events like this."
The next stop is Marcy Field in Keene, where students will participate in a winter festival with games and more speeches. The torch then goes to the Stewart's Shop in Keene, Tyler says.