SARANAC LAKE - The 116th Saranac Lake Winter Carnival came to a close this weekend as big and enthusiastic crowds turned out for some of the 10-day festival's most popular events.
A large crowd huddled around the Ice Palace Sunday night to watch the annual Winter Carnival slide show and a fireworks display over Lake Flower, the last two events on the schedule of the "Under the Sea"-themed 2013 Carnival.
"It's been fantastic," said Winter Carnival King Lee Foster. "I have loved every minute of it. It's been so much fun."
Perched on a horse-drawn carriage, Bob Brhel of Paul Smith’s College was Neptune in Saturday’s Winter Carnival Gala Parade.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
Before the final weekend of Carnival began, the area was blanketed in nearly a foot of new snow, and village crews worked late Friday night and early Saturday morning to clear the streets and sidewalks. Apart from causing the cancelation of the Paul Smith's College Alumni Reunion, the weather had no impact on Carnival festivities.
Saturday began with a full day of events, including the Whiteface Mountain Masonic Lodge's annual pancake breakfast at the Saranac Lake Adult Center, broomball at the Saranac Lake Civic Center, snow rugby at the Petrova School athletic fields and the Paul Smith's College woodsmen's exhibition in Riverside Park.
The biggest event of Carnival was the Gala Parade on Saturday. Huge crowds of people lined Broadway and Main Street, many of them decked out in shark hats and fish costumes. It was sunny but cold, with a temperature of about 15 degrees.
Coming Tuesday: Carnival photos and contest results
The Louis Fobare Trophy for best in parade went to the Dewey Mountain Youth Ski League for its fish-tank-themed float, which featured a big squid and kids and adults dressed in fish costumes. The Enterprise will publish results of the parade and other Carnival events Tuesday.
The final day of Carnival, Sunday, featured another parade, the annual Kiddie Parade. Kids of all ages, many of them in sea-themed costumes, and their parents joined Carnival characters like Sara the Snowy Owl, Mickey Mouse and Snow White in a march down Main Street from the Hotel Saranac to the Harrietstown Town Hall, stopping to do the Hokey Pokey and the Chicken Dance.
The Ice Palace was mobbed with people Sunday afternoon. Gail Brill, who was wearing a red Winter Carnival Committee jacket and providing information to visitors, speculated that the warm weather (temperatures in the low 30s) and sunshine brought people out to see the Palace. She said she talked to people from all corners of the North Country, especially from the Plattsburgh and Malone areas, and others from out of state.
Sunday's events wrapped up what's been a busy 10 days for members of the Carnival's Royal Court of high school students, like Taylor Pellerin.
"It was a really good experience, and it brought the 16 of us together," Pellerin said Sunday. "This past week was so busy, there was something to do every day after school, and there were a lot of late nights finishing up homework."
Pellerin said Carnival seems much bigger when you're a part of it.
"I can see also see how much goes into making it happen, like how much people put into it, especially the Women's Civic Chamber," he said. "They really do a lot for the Carnival."
Clyde Baker, who coordinates and advises the court with his wife Sue Rice, said this year's Court was "the best group we ever had.
"They were phenomenal," he said. "They were into everything. They participated in everything. They had a lot of fun, and they were a real cohesive group, which made their experience that much better."
Baker said he felt this year's Carnival theme was a big success.
"I thought it worked out well," he said. "It was a theme the whole family could get into, from the kids to the adults."
For those who missed it on Sunday, the Winter Carnival slide show, produced by Carnival photographer Mark Kurtz, will be shown again at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Saranac Village at Will Rogers.