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Lake George will try brief fireworks in light of Saranac Lake cancellation

LAKE GEORGE — Days after a fireworks display in Saranac Lake was canceled over COVID-related safety concerns, organizers of the Lake George Area Winterfest on Thursday announced a weekly display of their own.

Over the next three Saturdays, the monthlong event — which aims to attract visitors by highlighting the region’s safe, socially distanced outdoor recreational opportunities — will include a brief fireworks display over Fort William Henry along Beach Road beginning at 7 p.m.

The display is expected to last just 8 minutes, and fireworks will be shot directly upward in order to expand the scope of the viewing area so crowds don’t gather in one place, according to an email sent Thursday by Gina Mintzer of the Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce seeking event volunteers.

“As you may have seen, the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival had to cancel their fireworks due to crowds gathering,” the email reads. “We believe our abbreviated, overhead show, with additional and large viewing areas will not face the same crowd issues theirs did.”

The Warren County Tourism Department and organizers of the Americade motorcycle rally are also co-sponsoring the event.

Beach Road will be closed to traffic between Canada Street and Westbrook Road between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in order to accommodate any crowds.

Volunteers from the Lake George and Adirondack chambers of commerce, and Sysco, an event sponsor, will be in attendance to ensure no large groups gather.

It’s unclear how the event will be allowed to take place because of the state’s limits on gatherings.

A spokesman for Warren County, which provided $40,000 in occupancy tax revenue for the monthlong Winterfest, declined to comment Thursday on the fireworks display.

“The county has no comment on this,” Don Lehman said by email. “Publicity is going to be counterproductive.”

The event is currently being advertised on the Winterfest website.

“It’s ‘only’ eight minutes long to keep crowds from congregating and to remain COVID-safe,” reads the website, which also asks attendees to wear a face covering and maintain social distancing.

News of the display comes just days after organizers of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival were forced to cancel their closing fireworks display, set for this Saturday, after too many people failed to follow social distancing protocols put in place at the opening fireworks last Saturday. Attendees were asked to stay in their vehicles to enjoy the display, but many instead gathered outside to watch the show.

Lake George village Mayor Robert Blais, who proposed closing the stretch of Beach Road, said he doesn’t anticipate many will gather for the fireworks show, but added if social distancing turns out to be a problem, it will be the last week the display will be allowed to take place.

“We’re going to monitor it, and if there is a problem, this will be the only show,” he said. “The people just have to learn this is serious, and they have to maintain social distance.”

The village canceled is weekly fireworks display this past summer because of the pandemic.

Winterfest was proposed as a last-minute replacement to the annual Lake George Winter Carnival, which was canceled this year because of the pandemic.

The promotional event was designed to highlight the region’s outdoor recreational opportunities by offering discounts at local participating hotels and restaurants.

More than 900 wristbands have been sold for the event so far.

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