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Saranac Lake: Making winter look cool

March 22, 2012
Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Just like a fairy tale, winter in the Saranac Lake area is magical.

As the glorious colors of fall make way to chilled temperatures, the Saranac Lake region is coated under a thick blanket of snow, which brings a quietness that no other season can match. The beauty of the mountains, the ice that forms on the lakes and brooks, the crisp, cold air, make Saranac Lake a great winter getaway.

Whether you are an avid winter sports enthusiast, a theater aficionado, a history buff, a shopper, and art and music connoisseur or are looking for rejuvenation and relaxation, activities abound throughout the area over the coming months.

Discover how the historical village of Saranac Lake brings you back to a time when the clip clop of horses' hoofs echoed through our mountains. With its historical facades, the downtown buildings open their doors to a unique shopping experience, where shop owners personally invite you to discover their unique items. From antiques to gifts to men's suits to shoes to toys, sports equipment, art galleries, bookstores and then some, Saranac Lake offers the discriminatory shopper a little of everything. In addition, authentic Adirondack handiwork including weaving, carving, basketry, rustic furniture, and pottery of local and regional artists can be found at craft shops across the area. Annual craft shows in the area include Holiday Craft Shows in November and the chamber of commerce's Sparkle Village Craft Show & Sale in the historic Harrietstown Town Hall on Dec. 2-3, 2011.

Whatever your interests may be, take a moment to experience the picture postcard-like surroundings this area affords us every winter.

Enjoy snowshoeing or cross-country skiing along miles of trails blanketed in pristine white snow. Saranac Lake, set in the midst of the largest wilderness area in the Eastern United States, where New York's expansive lake country meets its highest mountains, provides miles of terrain perfectly suited for outdoor activities. The Dewey Mountain Recreation Center, a municipally owned nordic center on Route 3 west of Saranac Lake, offer trails for all ability levels. Learn more at Additional backcountry trail information and maps are available at the chamber.

Feel the wind shriek past your ears as your inner tube sails down Mt. Pisgah. Perfect for family entertainment, Mt. Pisgah Veterans Memorial Ski Center has a 500-foot tubing run with a lift leading back to the top of the mountain. Grab an inner tube and experience the rush or try one of the five lighted downhill ski slopes instead. When you're ready for a break, cozy up to the fireplace and enjoy some refreshments from the snack bar. Updated ski reports are available at (518) 891-0970.

Enliven your senses with a restorative massage or yoga session. Saranac Lake's compelling history as a pioneer health resort lives on through the many area businesses that focus on restorative health practices. After a long day of skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, or snowmobiling, contact the chamber of commerce to get a list of professionals who can get you back on the trails again in good health.

Suspend reality for awhile as you watch a Pendragon production in a darkened theater. Saranac Lake is home to Pendragon Theatre, the Adirondacks' only year-round professional theater. For over 25 years, more than 150 productions from the classics to world premieres have played at Pendragon's home base in Saranac Lake. For more information, contact the theater at (518) 891-1854, (888) 701-5977, or on their Web site at

Brave the elements to taste fresh fish pulled from beneath Lake Colby's icy surface. Lake Colby, as well as many other lakes throughout the region, is renowned for its unusually wide variety of game fish. The cold winter weather provides perfect conditions for ice fishing. In addition, the Lake Colby Classic Fishing Derby, sponsored by the Saranac Lake Fish & Game Club, draws anglers from across the region and beyond to its March competition. For more information, contact the Fish & Game Club at (518) 891-2560 or the chamber of commerce at 518-891-1990 or 800-347-1992.

Escape the winter doldrums with a refreshing stay at an area hotel, resort, cottage or bed and breakfast. Saranac Lake offers year-round accommodations to suit any taste and budget. These include homey bed and breakfasts, lakeside cottages and lodges, cabins set deep in the woods, restored Adirondack Great Camps, full-service hotels and motels.Many accommodations have fireplaces and/or hot tubs to warm you up after a long day of outside adventures.

While away, take an afternoon to peruse local art galleries and antique stores. North Country artists proudly show their award-winning work in galleries throughout the region. There are often special art and cultural events as well as workshops throughout the year. In addition, antiques enthusiasts will find a number of shops filled with treasures from the past. A complete list of galleries and antique dealers is available at the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, located in the North Elba Town House at 193 River St.

Rocket down an old railroad bed on the back of a snowmobile and enjoy an afternoon, a full day, or a week of exciting riding on more than 100 miles of groomed county trails and numerous state trails. Excellent accommodations and fine dining can be found along the way. Maps are available at the Chamber.

Sample cuisine unparalleled anywhere else at area restaurants as dining options in and around Saranac Lake are as unique as the surroundings in which they are found. Whether your taste leads you toward local Adirondack specialties such as trout or hare, a burger and fries, or anything in between, the Saranac Lake area restaurants have something for every appetite.

Participate in one of the most festive displays of community spirit around during the 2012 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival. This event, the oldest winter festival in the Eastern U.S. and perhaps the most popular legacy of the curing days, celebrates its 115th anniversary this year. Festivities include a parade, sporting events, logging exhibitions, fireworks, dances, shows and more. Visitors will marvel at the world-famous Ice Palace, constructed each year from blocks of ice cut from Lake Flower. This year's theme will be "Space Alien Invasions," and the festivities run from Feb. 3-12, 2012.

Winter Carnival's origins can be found in Saranac Lake's history as a world-famous health resort. In 1897, the first year of the event, the village was already a thriving community nestled deep in the Adirondack wilderness, its pristine setting providing rejuvenation for hundreds of tuberculosis sufferers drawn from all over North America. In the course of "taking the cure" here, many patients experienced a renewed passion for life, and took every opportunity - in every season - to explore the natural beauty that surrounded them. To break winter's chill and to promote "outdoor sports and games," the Pontiac Club was formed in 1896 and a year later sponsored the first winter carnival. Today's Carnival - now 10-days long - begins with the Coronation of the King and Queen. This honor is bestowed upon two local citizens, in recognition of their substantial volunteer efforts throughout the years. Joining them are a Prince and Princess, elected at the two local colleges, a Court made up of high school seniors, Pages chosen from the elementary schools, and an Archbishop and Chamberlain, who tend to such duties as proclamations and the crowning of the royal couple.

Each Carnival revolves around a theme, which provides a framework for Carnival decorations, the parade and the Carnival button. Since 1981, the button has sported an exclusive design donated by Garry Trudeau, the Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of "Doonesbury" and a native of Saranac Lake.

Whichever way the wind blows you this winter, you are sure to find something of interest throughout the Saranac Lake area.

For more information on any of these or other Saranac Lake area events and attractions, contact the Chamber of Commerce at (518) 891-1990, (800) 347-1992, or visit us online at Maps as well as accommodations and dining guides can be picked up at 193 River St. in Saranac Lake.

Sporting events are still the cornerstone of Winter Carnival. These include snowshoe and Nordic ski races at Dewey Mountain Cross-Country Ski Center, inner tube and alpine ski races down the slopes of Mount Pisgah, skating races, broomball and hockey games at the Saranac Lake Civic Center, volleyball played in knee-deep snow, softball played on snowshoes and a competitive display of traditional logging skills.

The Carnival now hosts two parades. The Gala Parade, to be held on Feb. 12, 2011, sees the entire community engaged in an animated march through town, regaled in comical costumes, riding upon dozens of colorful floats, accompanied by bands in a jubilant throwing-off of winter's chill. Saranac Lake's children have a chance to strut their stuff when they march down Main Street in the colorful and enchanting Kiddie Parade. The Kiddie Parade will start at 10 a.m., on Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011.

Rounding out the carnival schedule are dramatic presentations by the Pendragon Theatre, an old-time amateur revue in the historic Harrietstown Town Hall, a Main Street Festival, a bevy of dinners, dances, receptions and concerts, a slide show presentation and two spectacular fireworks displays over what has become the symbol of the Winter Carnival, the renowned Ice Palace.

For more information on the Winter Carnival, visit See the updated schedule or pick one up at the chamber.



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