Of carnivals and critics

Winter Carnival 2021 started off with a bang — literally.

Under the supervision and choreography of Peter Henry, the Pasha of Pyrotechnics, the fireworks show was even more magnificent than it usually is. If you missed it in person, Good Guy Productions has posted them on the internet. But believe me, you really don’t want to miss it … even in video on a small screen.

Unfortunately, there’ll be no fireworks to close Winter Carnival. While village officials and the Carnival Committee had repeated ad barfeum that everyone at the fireworks needed to wear masks and maintain social distance, too many people refused, even when asked by Saranac Lake’s Finest. So, as if too often the case, a few numbskulls managed to screw up everyone else’s good times (and are probably proud of it).

Most of us reacted to the news of the cancellation as you’d expect — with disappointment. But I was shocked at the number of people who instead groused and whined about how lack of masks and social distancing is no reason to cancel the fireworks — or any other Carnival activity. And so, they concluded, we (or more specifically, “they”) were cheated out of “their” full Carnival experience.

The supposed thinking behind that is real men and women ain’ts afraid of no little germs, or something to that effect. I didn’t hear much else offered as an explanation, though a few peeps said what a bunch of panty waists we are, since Lake George didn’t cancel their winter carnival — as if Lake George is the North American Center of Epidemiology and Machismo.

Public health …

In response, let me say a few things.

First, the village officials and Carnival Committee didn’t make that decision on a whim or because they’re a bunch of sissies. They did it for only one reason — the good of the community.

Those folks don’t bust their humps putting on Carnival for the glory and the big bucks, since they get neither. Hell, most people can’t even name two WC Committee members. Nope, they work so hard for one reason and one reason only: so all of us can have 10 days of incomparable fun. That’s it; there’s nothing more.

It’s only common sense to adhere to safe and sensible guidelines for gatherings during a pandemic, which a bunch of people seem to have forgotten we are still in — right up to our snot lockers. Believe it or not, the officials were only watching out for everyone’s welfare, including yours. Period.

As for Lake George and their winter carnival? Guess what? It was canceled.

In its place they came up with something they’re calling Winterfest. Which to me, sounds like winter carnival on the installment plan, since it’s all sorts of activities, just spread out over the month. According to their press releases, all the activities will require distancing and contagion-minimized behaviors. To which I say, good luck. As if everyone in their crowds will be more enlightened and cooperative than the jamokes at last week’s fireworks who trashed it for everyone else.

… vs. private wants

If you think I’m steamed up about our Carnival creeps and critics, your damned straight I am.

The number of people and thousands of hours of hard work it takes to organize and execute 10 days of Carnival is astounding. Unfortunately, that eludes the critics, all of whom I doubt do anything for Carnival except enjoy it. And please don’t tell me you’re a participant because you show up an hour before the parade and then diddy-bop your bad self down Broadway, in a unit a bunch of other people put together. Because that, Jack, is fun, not work.

So if you wanna be a critic, here’s what I recommend. Join any one of the organizations that do the actual work, devote all the time and energy, and spend a bunch of their own money so you can go to the party … and then make your timeless pronouncements.

Work on the Ice Palace each night. Volunteer to direct the parade route. Join the Women’s Civic Chamber. Help out at torchlight skiing or the inner tube races. Build one of the holes at Arctic Golf. Make a parade float. Measure the fry pan toss. Help time the Ice Palace Fun Run. And if none of those appeal to you, or are beneath your dignity, I’m sure the Carnival Committee could find something that’d showcase your vast array of talents.

Something that may have slipped the critics’ minds: The rest of us are doing the best we can to promote Carnival’s most important quality, which is not its events but its spirit. And we’re doing it under circumstances that are unfavorable — at best.

But if being cooperative, upbeat and joyful isn’t your cup of tea, and you’d rather be a member in good standing of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Ad Hoc Critics’ Committee, I’ve a suggestion.

Since, unlike us, Lake George has it all going on, why not go there with a crew of your fellow critics for a weekend of fun and frolic? Provided, of course, you can stand each other’s company that long.


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