Winter Carnival is back!

A drummer with Funky Karnaval dances down Main Street at the 2023 Winter Carnival Gala Parade. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Marbone)

Saranac Lake’s Winter Carnival is back, and just in time.

Despite the smattering of snowstorms throughout the past few weeks, we’ve had a pretty mild winter overall. Winter events we’re used to seeing feel fewer and farther between. We’re craving some snowy, freezing outdoor fun. We suspect that Winter Carnival will provide the cure.

Winter Carnival was started in the 1890s by tuberculosis patients who sought the fresh-air cure. They spent winters sitting on cure porches: bundled up, inactive and sick. When some got better, they were ready to stretch their limbs and celebrate life — they wanted to socialize, play sports, eat, drink, flirt, what have you. They had just beaten a terminal illness and wanted to live it up.

That spirit lives on.

There are a few new events and changes this year, which Enterprise reporters have written about over the last few weeks. Here’s a reminder:

— The Heat Keepers are hosting a new Icicle Jarts tournament at Riverside Park. People of all ages can test their icicle throwing accuracy at noon today, Feb. 3.

— There’s a new tug-of-war tournament on Sunday in Riverside Park. Teams can sign up by registering with Baker at wcctugofwar@gmail.com and they’ll also need to sign a liability waiver at tinyurl.com/ycysx6ve to participate. Tuggers must be 18 years old or at least 16 with parents’ permission. Sign up is on a first come first serve basis. There will be a limit of eight teams of eight. Each team has a 1,600-pound weight limit. The event runs from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.

— An illusionist show at the Harrietstown Town Hall on Feb. 8 is new. Illusionist Leon Etienne will perform starting at 7:30 p.m. This show is also free, thanks to a group of local businesses and an anonymous donor.

— The Storming of the Ice Palace fireworks show will be the last Saturday of Carnival, Feb. 10, rather than the final Sunday.

— The Running of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Mid-Winter Derby is new this year. It’s a hobby horse race; those who want to participate need only construct one and show up at Riverside Park to register for the event at 2:45 p.m. on Feb. 11. Entries are free thanks to the Saranac Lake Kiwanis Club and Adirondack Lakes and Trails Outfitters.

— The Louis Fobare Memorial Trophy for “Best in Show” in the Feb. 10 Gala Parade will be voted on by the public for the first time this year. Parade attendees will be able to vote online during the parade by scanning a QR code which will be displayed in windows of businesses along the parade route.

— The Winter Carnival slideshow is moving to Thursday, Feb. 15. This year, the slideshow will be paired with an outdoor community celebration. There will be free hot cocoa and soft pretzels, and the slideshow will be set to a playlist of creepy songs to fit the theme. There will be two additional showings of the slideshow at Saranac Village at Will Rogers on Feb. 22 at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

The Winter Carnival coronation on Friday evening officially kicked things off. Congratulations to this year’s Winter Carnival king and queen, and here’s to a happy Winter Carnival!


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