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The Second Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre

September 26, 2008
By Bob Seidenstein,

If you're into making love, not war, my hometown is not the place for you - at least not during this year's Winter Carnival.

For a short while, it looked like Carnival '09 was going to be just one big lovefest, but sadly, it won't happen.

It began, like all romances, with a lick and a promise, when the Winter Carnival Committee announced Carnival 2009's theme - Hearts on Fire.

This was perfect, I thought, since Carnival Saturday was St. Valentine's Day, and Hopeless Romantic that I am, the prospect of my two favorite religious holidays falling on the same day suffused me with love.

I was set afloat in a vast sea of pink, as I saw myself sending reams of cards and pounds of candies to those I love. In fact, I was so intoxicated with the idea, so full of non-Christian charity, I swore I'd even give a big box of chocolates to Old Lady Hickey - in spite of her repeatedly accusing me and my dogs of plundering her precious raspberry bushes.

But alas, it was not to be. The headline on last Thursday's Enterprise screamed the painful reality, "'Hearts on Fire' theme dropped."

Upon reading it, my jaw droppedand my heart sank.

Why, I wondered, was the original theme discarded?

The Carnival committee gave several reasons.

First, they said a lot of people didn't clearly understand what "Hearts on Fire" meant.

Since it's a metaphor, people might not immediately understand it. But so what? What's wrong with trying to figure something out? Does everything have to be obvious? Besides, with Valentine's coinciding with Winter Carnival, it doesn't take a Jungian psychiatrist to make some sense out of a heart, does it?

And furthermore, what specifically, did the past Carnival themes "Magic in the Mountains" and "Boogie Down Broadway" mean? I can't tell you, but I can tell you everyone who participated in the Carnival figured out something.

One of the board members said "Hearts on Fire" was dumped because the Carnival theme should be, and I quote, "light hearted." Most amazingly, he said it without a trace of irony.

He also said the theme should be creative, though to my way of thinking, a theme with many interpretations is a lot more creative than a theme with an obvious one.

I don't know if it's true, but perhaps the straw that broke the Committee's back was Bunk Griffin's spoof. On his Web site,, good ole Bunky worked up his own logo, which had the theme's name, under which was written, "Cure your heartburn at the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival." Then, for a subtle touch, in the background were several Pepto-Bismol bottles.

OK, so Bunkie lampooned the theme. But who'd expect anything less of a man who was born with a Mad magazine in one hand and a whoopee cushion in the other? Bunk is, after all, a satirist (though a gentle one). It's his job to make fun of us and our foibles.

The way I see it, if you live in Saranac Lake and Bunk hasn't made fun of you, then your life's poorer for it.

Don't feel the love - feel the cutlass!

But no matter - the Carnival for lovers was out.

And what's its lighthearted and creative replacement? Pirates, that's what.

Yep, the new theme is Davy Jones' locker, which while not specifically piratical, is sufficiently so to please the Committee.

Quite frankly, at first I couldn't see this pirate bit as any improvement over the heart theme and I resisted it.

Oh sure, it's a lot easier to understand. Then again, perhaps it's too easy. Let's face it, at the mere mention of the word "pirate," you can bet your swag and booty we'll have the whole town full of eye patches and hooks, with some peg legs and parrots thrown in for good measure, all of it accompanied by interminable choruses of "arrrrg's" till the sea cows come home.

And how creative is that? I don't know, but it sure didn't float my galleon.

But, hey, if that's the new theme, that's the new theme. So I figured the least I could do was be a good sport and go along with it - which I will.

In fact, the more I thought about it, the more the new theme made perfect sense: With America's current financial mess, and with the politicians and businessmen who put us in it, pirates are apparently more popular than ever.

And since the Winter Carnival Committee was willing to change the theme once, I'd like to suggest they make one further adjustment to make this year's theme most relevant to all of us.

My suggestion - "Pirates of Wall Street and Washington, D.C."



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