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‘Best of’ Rotary Show is Friday

The Saranac Lake Rotary Dancers dress as skeletons for the closing number of the Winter Carnival Rotary Show in February 2020. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

SARANAC LAKE — This year, the Rotary Show will be many shows in one.

The Saranac Lake Winter Carnival tradition moved online this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and local Rotary Club President Franny Preston said members wanted to share the best moments from past shows at Friday’s free event.

“We have put on a Rotary Show every year for at least the last 70 years, and we didn’t want to miss this one,” Preston wrote in an email.

Preston hopes that as people tune in to watch the show, they’ll hear the laughter and be transported to memories of the past, or introduced to performances they never saw. She said this retrospective will be a celebration of the past 30 years of the Carnival tradition and a “thank you” to the community that supports and enjoys the show every year. The theme of the show is “Celebrating Community.”

To attend, follow the Zoom link at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88374114640. The link can also be found at the Rotary website, saranaclakerotary.org.

The show starts at 7 p.m., but showing up when the “doors” open at 6:30 p.m. means callers can talk with the show organizers, just as they usually might at the Saranac Lake Town Hall.

Preston said they will talk about the show’s history and about how it started. She hopes this year’s virtual format will introduce the show to a broader audience.

The show itself will feature a variety of acts, as the usual show does, drawing from years of dance routines, children’s choruses, jugglers and, of course, the Rotary Dancers.

Preston said the club received approval to show a video of this year’s Carnival Court’s dance routine, too.

Preston said Mark Kurtz, who photographed Carnival for 29 years, shared many of his Rotary Show photos.

Some videos of performances will come from footage the Saranac Lake High School audio/visual club shot in years past. Some will come from cellphone videos from spectators in the crowd.

“You can see that it’s not Hollywood quality,” Preston said.

But that is not the point, and Preston said the show will hopefully be a touching tribute to the Saranac Lake community.

The show was edited by Rotarian Jasen Lawrence and Michael Friedman.

This year has been difficult for the Rotary Club to raise money for charitable causes, but the need has been high because of the pandemic. Preston said the club’s normal revenue streams, mostly events, are not happening, and that the Rotary Show is an important time of year for the club.

“It’s our biggest fundraiser every year,” Preston said. “And all of that money gets put back into the community.”

She said there will be a “donate” button on Rotary’s website where people watching the show can donate.

In the past two decades, the Rotary Club has provided grants to more than 20 organizations in response to community needs, including the Saranac Lake Youth Center, Wednesday night Community Suppers, New Visions, the Grace Pantry, the local fire and rescue departments, scholarships and books for kids.

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