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Winter Carnival parade is legendary

Gods and Monsters capture prize for best in show

The Canoodlers dress as gnomes for Saturday’s Saranac Lake Winter Carnival parade. They were judged first place in the independent walking group category. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

SARANAC LAKE — Eons ago (Saturday), an epic battle raged between gods, goddesses and monsters in an ancient land (Broadway and Main Street). Zeus threw lightning bolts, Artemis shot arrows and the Nemean Lion intimidated its foes with a mighty roar all the while the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” blasted in the background. Even the great “Kraken” Foxy was no match for the Olympians (a bunch of kids in togas and winter coats).

This year’s Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Gala Parade hosted a collection of mythical, legendary and fantastical characters and creatures. Outside the Greek pantheon, spectators saw sasquatches, dancing gnomes, the cast of Lord of the Rings, which included a dog dressed up as the spider demon Shelob, and an army of little knights storming a castle with the help of a dragon.

The Gods and Monsters float won the Louis Fobare Trophy for Best in Parade. The float was created by a group of locals — the Walkows, the Knights, the Kramers, the Hybickis, Mark Wilson, Chris Jage and Mary Thill. It wasn’t related to any particular organization of business like many of the other floats and marchers.

“We’re just a group of families that loves Carnival and loves being in the parade,” Andy Walkow said.

The float featured music, voice-over, storytelling, action and costumes. Walkow said it was the product of months of preparation.

“We started collecting costumes around Thanksgiving,” he said in a Facetime interview Sunday. “And after the new year, we would meet every Tuesday and Thursday at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts to rehearse. We didn’t have the float in there, so we had a tape outline on the floor we would work with.”

Swing-jazz group Crackin’ Foxy was a last-minute addition to the float. They walked behind the float with one person dressed as a giant, black Kraken, the massive legenday octopus.

Walkow’s daughter Julia came up with the theme of “Myths and Legends” for this year’s Carnival. Toward the end of her group’s routine, Julia, dressed as the winged goddess Nike, stood at the top of the hand-crafted Mount Olympus float, holding the severed head of Medusa.

When asked how she felt to have her theme get picked at such a young age, Julia said, “It’s cool.”

One spectator of the parade dressed up as Moses and held the Winter Carnival Ten Commandments, which included “Thou shall dance till they drop,” “Thou shall make new friends” and “Thou shall not pollute the streets.”

State Senator candidate Kimberly Davis and her group handed out Starburst and lollipops. However, some of the candy didn’t make its way into the hands of people looking for a sugar rush, but instead the ground.

In a phone interview Sunday, Davis said her group did not mean to cause any litter issue but kids were having a hard time grabbing the candy because of their winter gloves and mittens.

Winter Carnival Committee Chair Jeff Branch said paraders can hand out candy, but they can’t throw it.

“It’s actually in the application,” he said. “It says you can’t throw candy, and any confetti is supposed to be biodegradable. People tend to obey the confetti rule, but the parade candy is a hard one to enforce. We wish they didn’t, but it’s hard to stop them.”

Though Thursday and Friday saw more than a foot of snow and plenty of ice in the Tri-Lakes, the village Department of Public works cleared the streets and sidewalks before the parade started. Saturday saw sunny skies and temperatures in the teens and low 20s.

“It was one of the most beautiful parade days,” Branch said. “If I could have ordered a day for the parade, that would’ve been it. I’m guessing it was record numbers for turnout.”

Branch said a question that’s always on the committee members’ minds after parade day is, “How can we top this next year?”

“We’re always looking forward, and I think we set the bar pretty high this year,” he said. “It was a fantastic theme this year, but maybe that can open up some other visions for other people, spurring more great ideas.”

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