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Runway for Santa returns

From left, Dan, Ty and Denise Figueroa prepare to lay out a runway for Santa’s sleigh on Lake Flower. (Provided photo — Earl Taylor)

SARANAC LAKE — Wednesday morning was still two days away from Christmas morning but Ty Figueroa woke up just as excited, his mother Denise said.

For the second year in a row, the Figueroa family has set up a lighted runway on the icy surface of Lake Flower to guide Santa Claus and his nine reindeer into Saranac Lake tonight on his worldwide holiday sleigh ride.

On Wednesday, Ty loaded all the luminary bags he had prepared into a sled and his parents placed them in two lines along the snowy ice, with enough room for a sleigh-driving team of reindeer to fit between.

Last year, Ty worried that landing on his parents’ slanted roof would be too “tricky” for Santa’s sleigh. He recognized the flat frozen lake outside as the perfect landing zone and helped his parents construct a runway lined with candle-lit paper bags, weighted down with sand.

The response from his neighbors and the community was so positive, his mother Denise immediately knew she wanted to do it again this year.

Ty Figueroa, 4, pulls a sled filled with luminary bags he used to construct a runway for Santa to land in Saranac Lake on tonight. (Provided photo — Denise Figueroa)

When she mentioned they would have to start preparing for the runway in November, her husband Dan excitedly ran out to the store and bought the supplies needed.

Last year there were around 30 luminary bags. This year there are 100.

Denise said this is becoming an annual tradition for her family and she is already planning for next year’s runway.

“It was such a positive idea of Ty’s that I just felt like it had to become tradition,” Denise said.

She wanted to turn this year’s runway into a community event, but the pandemic does not allow for gathering. She hopes she can really expand the project next year.

A bag made specially for Rudolph. (Provided photo — Denise Figueroa)

Marking the end of the runway is one bag for Rudolph. There are bags carrying the names of the other eight reindeer, elves and Mrs. Claus. There are also bags bearing the names of Ty’s grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, ancestors and friends.

Denise said she would put a bag with the name of every kid in town out there if she could.

Despite inconsistent weather, the ice was thick enough Tuesday to safely set up the path.

The runway is in the bay bordered by Baldwin Park (the tennis courts) where the water is calm, but Denise advises against walking on the ice because certain areas can be thinner than others. Water enters the lake from McKenzie Brook under the road and the Saranac River waters move under the surface toward the center.

The runway is visible from Baldwin Park on the shore off of Lake Flower Avenue, though.

Ty and Ruffy play on the surface of Lake Flower after laying out a runway for Santa to land on today. (Provided photo — Denise Figueroa)

The flicker-light candles are already turned on, so when dusk settles in, the runway will begin to glow.

Denise said she wouldn’t be surprised to see some ashy footprints in the snow on Christmas morning.

Ty loves the winter season, Denise said. All summer he asks “how many days until winter?” She said she’s never heard of someone asking that.

Ty has asked for two “stuffies” (stuffed animals) for Christmas.

Ty Figueroa, 4, eats some snow from the frozen surface of Lake Flower, where he and his parents laid out a lighted runway for Santa’s reindeer on Wednesday morning. (Provided photo — Denise Figueroa)

Dan, Ty and Denise Figueroa setup the runway for Santa Wednesday in Saranac Lake. (Provided photo — Denise Figueroa)

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