Saranac Lake will welcome home Olympians with parade

Chris Mazdzer accepts his Olympic silver medal on Feb. 11 for the men's singles luge competition in Pyeongchang, South Korea. (Associated Press photo)

SARANAC LAKE — This village is throwing a parade to welcome local Olympians home from the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Wednesday, March 21 is confirmed as the date of the parade, Jon Lundin, spokesman for the state Olympic Regional Development Authority, said Tuesday. It will begin at 5:30 p.m. As with post-Olympic parades in 2010 and 2014, local Olympians will ride on a float through downtown Saranac Lake to the Harrietstown Town Hall, where the event will move inside for “congratulatory messages” — i.e., speeches — and a chance for people to meet the Olympians and get their autographs, according to Lundin.

Lake Placid may hold a separate parade, but it has not yet been organized, Lundin said.

So far, four Olympians have confirmed they will attend the Saranac Lake parade:

¯ Chris Mazdzer, a three-time Olympic luger who grew up in Saranac Lake and won a silver medal in Pyeongchang — the first Olympic medal ever for an American in men’s singles luge

Local Olympians, from left, Lowell Bailey (obscured in back), John Napier, Bill Demong, Chris Mazdzer and Tim Burke wave to the crowd during a welcome home parade on March 6, 2010, in Saranac Lake after the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. (Enterprise photo — Mike Lynch)

¯ Tim Burke, a four-time Olympic biathlete who grew up in Paul Smiths and lives in Lake Placid

¯ Lowell Bailey, a four-time Olympic biathlete who grew up in and lives in Lake Placid

¯ Andrew Weibrecht, a three-time Olympic alpine skier who grew up in and lives in Lake Placid. He won a bronze medal at the 2010 Olympics and a silver at the 2014 games, both in Super-G.

Lundin said he is reaching out to other 2018 Olympians who have lived and/or trained in this area. For instance, the entire U.S. luge, bobsled and skeleton teams are based in Lake Placid, and all their athletes train there.

Lundin said the parade will also include local Olympians of the past — he hasn’t confirmed which ones will attend — staff from winter sports governing bodies and the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, as many children as possible from local sports and community organizations, local politicians, the Saranac Lake High School marching band, and the Saranac Lake and Lake Placid fire departments.

Local Olympians, from left, Peter Frenette, Lowell Bailey, Jamie Gruebel Poser and Tim Burke smile and wave to the crowd during a welcome-home parade March 26, 2014, in Saranac Lake after the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

At one point NBC’s “Today” show was interested in sending a crew to Saranac Lake to cover the village welcoming Mazdzer home after his historic achievement, according to Carrie Gentile, communications coordinator for the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism. As time passed, however, the show decided not to do so, Gentile said. “Today” did send a producer and a camera crew to cover hundreds of people watch Mazdzer race in the Olympic luge team relay Feb. 15.

The committee organizing the Saranac Lake parade consists of Mazdzer’s mother Marty Lawthers, Kelly Morgan of the Saranac Lake Women’s Civic Chamber, Eric Wilson of Good Guy Productions, Saranac Lake village Manager John Sweeney — whose niece Emily Sweeney competed in these Olympics in luge — ORDA Vice President Jeffery Byrne and Lundin.

Olympics in the House

Meanwhile, northern New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik used her position to congratulate North Country Olympians on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Speaking in the Capitol in Washington Tuesday, Stefanik, R-Willsboro, noted that the silver-medal-winning U.S. women’s bobsled team trained in Lake Placid in New York’s 21st Congressional District, which she represents. But the Olympian she singled out by name was “Saranac Lake’s very own Chris Mazdzer.”

“Chris trained tirelessly at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, and I know he’s inspired the next generation of NY-21 athletes from across our region,” Stefanik said. “Chris, the North Country has been buzzing with excitement since the Winter Games began, and seeing you on the podium was an incredible moment for us all. Congratulations to Chris and to all our Olympians who showed the world just what the North Country has to offer.”

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