Saranac Lake gears up for annual winter carnival

2014 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival button

2014 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival button

— For residents of this former logging town, some traditions never die — they’re just frozen in Flower Lake and thawed out each year for the east coast’s longest-running winter carnival.

For 10 days, this small village seven miles from Lake Placid will host a constellation of over 100 events spread across the frigid landscape, including three sets of fireworks, parades, musical performances and demonstrations from a wide variety of local organizations, from woodmen to women tossing custom-designed frying pans.



Friday, Jan. 31

7:30pm: Women’s Civic Chamber Coronation of Winter Carnival Royalty (Harrietstown Town Hall)

Saturday, Feb. 1

12:30pm: Ladies’ Fry Pan Toss (Riverside Park)

7pm: Lighting of the Ice Palace and Opening Fireworks Display (Ice Palace, State Boat Launch)

8-10pm: Winter Carnival Celtic Jam (Harriettstown Town Hall)

Sunday, Feb. 2

2:30pm: Woltner Summit Spike of the Ice Icicle Contest (Ice Palace)

Tuesday, Feb. 4

5:30pm: Grand Marshal Reception and Royalty Dinner (Red Fox Restaurant)

Friday, Feb. 7

9pm: Performance by Albany-based jam band Conehead Buddha (The Waterhole)

Saturday, Feb. 8

11am: Paul Smith’s College Woodsmen’s Exhibition (Riverside Park)

1pm: Gala Parade (Broadway and Main Street from Ampersand Avenue to LaPan Highway)

Sunday, Feb. 9

3pm: 19th Annual Saranac Lake Young Arts Association Winter Carnival Baroque Concert (First United Methodist Church)

8pm: “Storming the Palace” Closing Fireworks Display (Ice Palace, State Boat Launch)

For full schedule of events, visit saranaclakewinter.... Runs until Sunday, Feb. 9.

While it may be easy for newcomers to lump the carnival in with the flotilla of one-off wintertime events that dot the North Country, the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival has a long and storied history speckled with a cast of colorful characters and quirky traditions.

“People tended to make their own fun, like stage sets for festivities,” said Harrietstown Historian Mary Hotaling on the roots of late-nineteenth century community events. “It was the way that people tended to entertain themselves.”

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