Winter Carnival memories

SARANAC LAKE – The Saranac Lake Winter Carnival kicked off Friday night with Coronation and will continue for another week, highlighted by the Gala Parade next Saturday.

To get in the mood for Carnival, I asked a few people to share their thoughts about the event. Some shared their favorite memories while others expressed their general thoughts about why they enjoy the Carnival so much.

Here’s what they had to say:

Jeff Dickson, Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Committee Chairman

“It’s not one specific memory. It’s just the overall sense of goodwill that feels like it is all around you during Winter Carnival.”

Barbara Martin

2002 queen, member of Winter Carnival Committee and Saranac Lake Women’s Civic Chamber

“Coronation stands out to me, being on the Women’s Civic Chamber, and I did that for several years before it was taken over. It’s the opening of Carnival (that I really look forward to). It’s a huge highlight. (I enjoy) the anticipation of who the king and queen are going to be. We were told one time … ‘It was like watching the Super Bowl of Saranac Lake.'”

Mark Kurtz

Official Carnival photographer

“I remember years ago, after one of the slide shows one night, someone came up to me – actually it was Donna Dora that came up, and after the slide show she said, ‘Did we have that much fun?’ Because you condense it all into a half an hour. … When you’re done with the slide show, you go, ‘Wow, we really do a lot of stuff in that 10-day period,’ and I think that is one of the biggest impressions I have. I don’t think so much about it in the middle of it all because I’ve got this job (as a photographer) that I’m going full tilt on that and I get consumed with that part of it, and I can’t see the forest through the trees. But then, when I actually watch the slide show, you can see the whole forest. “

Ray Dora

2004 Carnival king

“I’m local. I grew up in Saranac Lake, so my main thoughts of Winter Carnival go back to my father. My father (Art Dora) worked for a number of years building floats. Many years, he would actually work on two floats. He owned the Saranac Lake hardware store at the time, and they always had a float in the parade. He was also a member of the Elks Club and also worked on their float as well. So growing up, there was always float building going on. We had a shop at our house where he did a lot of the work for the floats. So that’s my main memory of past Carnivals and the reason Carnival really hits home for me because my father was into the float building.

“Probably the (float) that I remember most was the one he built the one year they first got the snorkel truck at the fire department. I have no idea what the theme was that year, but he built basically a snorkel truck with a working snorkel, so it went up like the snorkel. It was funny because he was always very conscious of doing things very exactly, and I used to say to him, ‘Well, nobody is going to notice that that’s not quite level on a float,’ and he said, ‘Well, Louie Fobare will.’ He was a friend of Louie Fobare’s … (who) was a carpenter, a very expert carpenter around town.”

Kelly Morgan

2012 Carnival queen

“The whole thing (last year) was great. The weekend is too short. It’s so much fun. The kids’ faces are so unbelievable because they really think you are a real king and queen. They look at you with such big eyes, and they’re like, ‘Wow,’ and you’re like, ‘Well, maybe I am a queen.’ That’s really special. The parade, riding in that float, is like the coolest thing. It’s very, very special. And I’ll never forget it.”

Tommie Gallagher

2006 Carnival queen

“I had a wonderful time (as queen). I thought of myself as queen mother. The young man that was my king was Allie Pelletieri. This is the way I looked at it because he was the age of one of our sons, and I was 80-something. It was interesting, and I had a great time. He was wonderful, just a really neat guy, and we did everything from the beginning until the end. The race on Saturday morning, and we were there and saw them on the skating (rink). And of course, I didn’t put on skates. What my family did is they brought out an old Flyer, an old sled. In fact, (my daughter) Beth has it in front of her store. You’ll see this old sled. So they put me on the sled, and Allie pulled me around. We gave out the prizes then. Me on a sled. Oh, Lord. But a great time.”

Tim Fortune

2012 Carnival king

“It’s hard to kind of pick any kind of one memory. The whole experience for me last year was great. It was such a privilege to be chosen because the history of this reaches back so many years. I think last year was the 115th Carnival, and to be associated with that as king was really quite an honor and lots of fun. Kelly Morgan and I, we attended just about every event last year in the Winter Carnival and it really showed us how many volunteers it takes to run the Carnival, so that was kind of an eye-opener for us. So it made us even more thankful of the spirit of Saranac Lake as a volunteer community. It’s really expressed in a very strong way during each Winter Carnival.”

Peter Wilson

Owner of Major Plowshares Army Navy store in downtown Saranac Lake

“Basically since I’ve been in business, a lot of it is a busy time of year for me, so I get to watch the folks come in from Albany and all over the place, and it’s always fun because there’s people coming in from literally around the world. It’s an enjoyable experience. It is one of the busier times of year, so in fact, on parade day I can usually count on going to watch a little bit at the beginning. And at about 10 minutes in on a typical parade day, people start going, ‘I didn’t wear enough clothes,’ and start pulling into the store looking for hand warmers and toe warmers or new socks or mittens or gloves or hats or whatever.

“So it tends to be pretty busy, and also from about 10 or 15 minutes into the parade until the end I’m able to run and catch snatches in between customers, which is a bit of a disappointment, but I always go and catch some of the video replays and stuff like that, what I missed. But I certainly don’t turn away business on that day. People are in such good spirits. People who are coming in from out of town and thinking it’s the quirkiest, funniest thing in the world, and it sort of a nice break in the winter.”

Eric Foster

Carnival parade coordinator

“It’s the amount of community spirit and the groups that come (are amazing). It’s just really heartening to put on as interesting and diverse a parade as we are able to, mainly because of the community groups that come together as units. The idea is people have so much enthusiasm and bring so much to the parade, that that’s what really makes it. All the people who are participating in it is what makes it what it is today.”