Carnival adjusts theme to be culturally sensitive

Broadway is packed with people watching the 2016 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Gala Parade. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

SARANAC LAKE — Organizers of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival have decided to modify next year’s theme after an earlier choice of theme was rejected by some who found it culturally insensitive.

Instead of “Adirondack Fiesta,” the theme will be “Adirondack Festival” in February 2018, according to Winter Carnival Committee Chairman Jeff Branch.

When the “fiesta” theme was announced in April, some community members saw it as an opening for trouble. Carnival publicity head Colleen O’Neill told the Enterprise it was a bad year to risk an ethnic theme and that a few in the community might dress up in offensive ways or otherwise offend people of Latino heritage.

Branch said the Facebook debate on the theme got so ugly that carnival organizers closed down the option to comment.

“Our goal has been to have a fun Carnival, and this has not been fun so far,” Branch said. “It was a hard thing. People were threatening to boycott Carnival.”

“We didn’t want to split the community,” he added. “But I don’t believe theme makes Carnival. People make Carnival.”