A flu epidemic is gripping the nation, and a stiff breeze added a biting wind chill factor to the 20-degree air temperature on Lake George yesterday, but that didn’t stop several hundred from turning out for the launch of the 57th Lake George Winter Carnival. A noon ceremony opened with prayer and singing of the National Anthem as a skydiver gently dropped from the clouds carrying the star spangled banner. The Lake George American Legion Post 374 Color Guard stood at attention on MacDonald Pier with their banners waving in the wind.
“We have beautiful weather, and we have the magic; it’s called ice,” said Carnival Co-Chair Lou Tokos in his introductory remarks. The past two years, lack of ice on the lake had pushed Carnival events onto the shore. Village of Lake George Mayor Robert Blais gave a shout out to Carnival volunteers in his remarks, “I think we all ought to realize that for many, many years all these people that put this carnival on are all volunteers. They’ll start the day after the last events planning next year. And if the opening is anything like we just saw, this is going to be one of the greatest years.”
Following Opening Ceremonies, a crowd lined up at the Shepard Park amphitheater to sample and cast a vote for chili from more than a dozen local eateries. Adirondack Pub & Brewery took first place in the chili cook-off, with Holiday Inn and Mario’s tying for second. King Neptune’s Pub placed third.
Outhouse races were held on the lake with four teams competing in double elimination heats. The ice was free of snow, making for slippery conditions, and team members struggled to keep themselves and their outhouses upright. There were a few wipeouts, with one outhouse tumbling over onto its side and team members losing footing and landing on their backs.
Perennial first place winner Adirondack Studios TNT retained their championship title with Chocolate Thunder, pushed and pulled by a team from LNT Manufacturing of Providence, New York, took second place. LP Adams came in third. The Bay Ridge Fire Department made a valet effort, racing a privy complete with sirens and flashing lights, but was eliminated after the third heat.
Throughout the afternoon, Carnival goers enjoyed pony rides, carriage rides and helicopter rides. King Neptune’s Pub hosted Zumba dancing, face painting and crafts for kids. Several dogs competed in the Lake George Dog’s Got Talent Contest hosted by The Dog Cabin. A variety of breeds demonstrated their skills at sitting, shaking hands, rolling over, dancing on two legs and howling.
The Lake George Winter Carnival Opening Day Parade stepped off from the Fort William Henry Hotel at 4 p.m. and included emergency vehicles of the Lake George and Bay Ridge Fire companies and vehicles and marchers from local businesses. The parade was followed by a bonfire on the beach with the fixing for s’mores and a hot chocolate bar.
The Lake George Winter Carnival continues today with a free Make Your Own Sunday stand in Shepard Park at 11:30 a.m., Keg Toss Competition at 2 p.m. and numerous other activities. The Winter Carnival continues each weekend in February with on-ice car, motorcycle and ATV races scheduled. “Lake George is the place to be throughout all of February,” says Lake George Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Gina Mintzer. For a complete schedule of Winter Carnival events, visit the Lake George Winter Carnival website.