SARANAC LAKE - The Winter Carnival here is the second best worldwide, according to National Geographic Traveler magazine.
Saranac Lake's annual event earned the No. 2 spot on National Geographic Traveler's list of the top 10 winter carnivals. Anchorage, Alaska's was ranked number one in the bimonthly magazine's January/February 2012 issue.
The rest of the top 10 winter festival host cities are (in order) Ottawa, Ontario; St. Paul, Minn.; Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario; Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H.; Quebec, Canada; Sapporo, Japan; Steamboat Springs, Colo.; and Whitefish, Mont.
The Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Ice Palace is seen lit up at night in February 2011.
(Enterprise file photo — Mike Lynch)
It is not clear from the article who ranked these carnivals and how. A call placed to National Geographic's communications office Tuesday has not yet been returned.
The photograph that accompanies the article online was taken in Saranac Lake by official Winter Carnival photographer Mark Kurtz. It shows Carnival royalty standing in front of the ice palace, illuminated by fireworks and falling snow.
"Deep in the Adirondack wilderness, the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival hosts traditional winter sports competitions - alpine and Nordic skiing, children's skating races, and curling - as well as offbeat contests, such as the women's frying pan toss," reads a version of the story posted on the magazine's website. "There are concerts, fireworks, and a parade that reflects a chosen theme (this year: aliens from outer space)."
The story also notes that "an elaborate ice palace built by volunteers with thousands of blocks of ice harvested from Lake Flower" is the centerpiece of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival, which will be held for the 114th time Feb. 3 to 12, 2012.
The article says Anchorage's carnival was created by "a few stir-crazy residents" who decided to organize "a sports tournament to coincide with the days that miners and trappers brought their goods to town." The 10-day celebration is scheduled for Feb. 24 to March 4, 2012, and includes a reindeer run, sled dog races, snowshoe softball and ice hockey.
"This comes as a complete surprise," Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Chairman Jeff Dickson said this morning, after mentioning the ranking in an address to the village board Tuesday night. "We had no idea they even rated such things.
"To be rated ahead of much larger places with significantly greater resources is very gratifying," he added. "Our sponsors and supporters are absolutely essential to the success of carnival, but the driving force behind it all is the group of volunteers that do all the work. Just one more example of the power of community.
"But to be honest - I would trade the rating for 12 inches of ice in Pontiac Bay."
This winter has been mild so far, and there isn't much ice yet on Pontiac Bay, the part of Lake Flower where ice for the palace is harvested.