Creepy Carnival will have schedule changes

Fireworks and slideshow dates move, new events announced, and public to vote on parade top award

Fireworks rain down over the Totally ‘80s 2022 Ice Palace during the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival closing ceremony in February. (Enterprise photo — Lauren Yates)

SARANAC LAKE — The 2024 Creepy Carnival is lurking right around the corner, and as the Winter Carnival committee has been adding new events and rearranging portions of the schedule from its usual format, they want to get the word out so that people aren’t frightened by the changes when February rolls around.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Winter Carnival Committee, Chair Rob Russell said they’re saving those frights for the festivities. The major scheduling changes are in the “Storming of the Ice Palace” fireworks show and the slideshow of photos from throughout the week-long event.

The final fireworks have been moved to Saturday, instead of Sunday. The show will begin at 7 p.m., several hours after the Gala Parade. Russell said since the NFL changed the date of the Superbowl in 2022, the biggest football game of the year has overlapped with the closing fireworks show. To avoid families splitting up or missing one event or the other, they changed the date.

And, he said tourists visiting for Carnival have always looked a little disappointed when they learn the big show is on Sunday evening, after they have to leave town to return to work on Monday. So, to be inclusive to them, and to local football fans, they switched it to Saturday.

The slideshow of photos taken and curated by Carnival’s official photographer Meachele Manchester has been moved to the Thursday after Carnival, Feb. 15. Manchester and previous photographers have always rushed to get all their photos in for the slideshow, photos of events going almost right up until the slideshow began.

“Even though I’m concerned that some people may not be happy about it because we’ve taken it out of the tradition … I guess I’m willing to put up with that flack and make it a community event versus trying to shove so many things into the one day and also put the volunteers into undue stress,” Russell said.

Russell said this slideshow should be more of a community celebration and party event, to celebrate surviving what is shaping up to be a particularly harrowing Carnival. He said giving Manchester more time will result in a more polished event. And it will also be a way to get out of the post-Carnival funk, by reviving memories from the week.

He said he wanted to rearrange other parts of the schedule to keep events from overlapping. Particularly, he wants to leave Family Night at the Ice Palace unobstructed, because this year’s theme is all about family for him. The committee is updating the Winter Carnival schedule on its website, and is preparing to roll out a brand new website at the same webpage in the coming weeks.

Russell also said this year’s Carnival has two new events — a tug-of-war and a hobby horse race.

He said the tug-of-war idea came from DJ Fowler and was something he developed with Eric Foster last year. It will be held on the Monday after opening weekend, either at the Ice Palace or at Riverside Park. Russell said this is like an “Olympic exhibition” this year, where organizers will learn the ropes of running tug-of-war matches, with plans for it to morph into a full-fledged tournament in the future.

The hobby horse race idea came from Dave Rockefeller, he said. The tagline for this race is “build it, buy it, ride it.” Children will be encouraged to build and decorate their own hobby horse — typically a horse’s head on a long stick, which can be ridden by running around with the stick between their legs. The race will be held in Riverside Park on the last day of Carnival, Feb. 11.

The committee has been scaring up some creepy themed events special for this Carnival — trick-or-treating and a Monster Mash ball. They are still working out the details of trick-or-treating.

The Monster Mash at the Saranac Waterfront Lodge will be held on the second Saturday at 6 p.m. and take place during the fireworks next door at the Ice Palace.

Russell said the Louis Fobare Memorial Trophy for “Best of Show” in the Gala Parade will be voted on by the public for the first time this year. Previously, this had been the job of the judges. He said the committee has been trying to build up the “Battle of the Bands,” which takes place in the town hall after the parade. Attendance has been dwindling in the past years.

The Louis Fobare award will also be a legacy award, with a name added to the award every year and the trophy displayed somewhere in town throughout the year. The public will vote online through a QR code.

The committee is also still looking for more local, family friendly floats to sign up for the parade.

Ice Palace Workers 101 Director Dean Baker said on Tuesday that he has begun praying for ice.

Winter Carnival will be held Feb. 1 through Feb. 11, 2024.


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