SARANAC LAKE - The extra terrestrials have gone home.
A large crowd huddled around the Ice Palace in frigid, single-digit temperatures Sunday night to watch the annual Saranac Lake Winter Carnival slide show and a fireworks display over Lake Flower, the last two events on the schedule of the "Space Alien Invasion"-themed 2012 Carnival.
Organizers said the combination of a great theme and, somewhat surprisingly, winter weather made the event a success.
2012 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Parade
"A lot of people enjoyed the theme," Winter Carnival Committee Chairman Jeff Dickson said this morning. "Also, there was almost a sigh of relief when everybody realized the strange, strange weather we were having was not going to have an impact."
The rain and warm temperatures prior to Carnival had hampered construction of the Ice Palace, which had to be repaired several times, but the weather wasn't much of a factor once Carnival got under way. Organizers wish there had been more snow, but they weren't complaining.
"With the cross-country skiing and snowshoeing races, they had to change the courses to make sure they used the terrain that had snow on it," Dickson said. "Volleyball was more like summer volleyball than snowshoe volleyball. But it was great, and everybody just had fun with it."
Like extras from a “Star Trek” episode, space ladies pop out and party atop the HomEnergy-Rumble Carpentry float in Saturday’s Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Gala Parade.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
Temperatures had initially been forecast in the single digits for Saturday's Winter Carnival Gala Parade, the biggest event of the 10-day festival. But the mercury held steady in the lower to mid 20s, and a light snow came down during the parade. Large crowds of people lined Broadway and Main Street, many of them decked out as aliens or astronauts.
"I heard a lot of comments on the street about how great the parade was," said veteran Winter Carnival Committee member Barbara Martin. "Everybody was just really into the theme. The floats were amazing, and we got lucky with the weather."
For the second year in a row, the Louis Fobare Memorial Trophy for best in parade went to St. Joseph's Addiction Treatment and Recovery Centers. Their float, titled "Attacking Addiction," featured a spaceship and alien attacking a city of multi-colored skyscrapers. The St. Joseph's float also won the business category, edging out the elaborate HomEnergy Services-Rumble Carpentry float, which featured space ladies jumping out of three large spaceships, confetti cannons and several other special effects.
Another popular parade entry this year was the Canoodlers, a conehead-wearing, canoe paddle drill team that won first place in the independent walking group category, beating perennial favorite the Lawn Chair Ladies.
"I think seeing the Canoodlers out there was pretty cool," said Dan Hill of Saranac Lake, who watched the parade with his wife and two kids. "It's always nice to have a group with a lot of spirit. Every year you see a lot of different, creative things."
"The Lawn Chair Ladies are always good, and I loved all the small businesses' floats," said Winter Carnival Court Chamberlain Josh Marlow. "To see the work they put into it is really great."
Participants in the parade had just as much fun.
Historic Saranac Lake and Trudeau Institute teamed up on a parade entry this year - a group of alien germs attacking scientist germ busters. HSL director Amy Catania described the partnership as both fun and an "incredible bonding experience.
"I think I realized in a deeper way what Carnival's about, that it's about building relationships," Catania said. "Also, walking down Main Street during the parade and looking at our beautiful historic downtown, I got to thinking that this is something that's happened for over 100 years, on and off. To me, it's a historic event in that way, even when it is full of aliens."
"It's just the sense of community," Hill said when asked to describe what makes Carnival so special. "Everybody comes out, everybody's got great spirit, and it brightens up the coldest part of winter."
The Winter Carnival Committee will meet later this week to critique the event.
"I can't believe it's over already," Martin said. "It's gone. But it was fun."