Winter Carnival-style golf planned for Central Park

A boy putts an Arctic Golf ball amid an ice-block Stonehenge, consistent with the “Celtic Carnival” theme of the 2014 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival. (Enterprise photo — Peter Crowley)

SARANAC LAKE — A Saranac Lake Winter Carnival event could hit the big time in the Big Apple.

The New York City Parks Department has been talking to Winter Carnival organizers about including Arctic Golf as one of its feature events during the Jan. 28 Winter Jam in Central Park.

Carnival Publicity Chair Colleen O’Neill, who created and organizes Arctic Golf each year, said a contact at I Love NY who came to carnival two years ago put her in touch with the city’s Parks Department.

O’Neill said there were some initial talks about building an ice palace in Central Park, like the one carnival volunteers build next to Lake Flower each year.

“But they quickly realized they could not do that,” she wrote in an email. “They just don’t have the ice and it would cost them a lot to have ice brought in enough for it to be a substantial size palace.”

The conversation then shifted to Arctic Golf, which joined the list of carnival events in 2014. It’s basically a nine-hole miniature golf course with obstacles built of snow and ice left over from the palace. In 2015, organizers created an Arctic Golf Build-an-Obstacle Contest, inviting local residents, businesses and organizations to design and build their own obstacle.

“As far as my discussions with the Central Park folks, they basically wanted to pick my brain about how I do Arctic Golf here,” O’Neill wrote. “I shared methods and lessons learned and told them what to expect.”

“Arctic Golf is a guaranteed crowd please(r) since all ages and abilities can do it, so there will be long lines for sure. It sounds like a massive crowd that they get there, too.”

The Central Park Winter Jam is a free winter sports festival for all ages held each year in the park’s bandshell area. Snowshoeing, sledding and ski and snowboard lessons are some of the activities involved. The state Olympic Regional Development Authority, based in Lake Placid, is one of the key players each year, using its snowmaking equipment to make snow for the event.

O’Neill said she believes the city’s Parks Department is considering Arctic Golf as one of their events. She said she’ll know for sure in January. If it happens, O’Neill said she may travel to the city to see it as she already planned to visit her father in New Jersey that weekend.

“I’m sure with all of their resources it would be on a much grander scale, like I always imagined it could be,” she wrote. “So, I’m interested to see how our little home grown small town event hits the big time in NYC.”

As for Arctic Golf in Saranac Lake, O’Neill said she just started advertising the “Build-an-Obstacle Contest” and has returning participants signed up for four of nine holes. Businesses or organizations interested in building an obstacle can find application information on the carnival website,