Community supports fire victims with fundraiser

LAKE PLACID – A community fundraiser for victims of a devastating fire one week ago today attracted a big crowd at the Lake Placid Pub and Brewery Thursday night.

All three floors of the pub were packed for the fundraiser, which also served as a toast to the firefighters, rescue workers, police officers and town and village workers who responded to the blaze at 263 Station St. last Friday in sub-zero temperatures. Four businesses that called the building home – Placid Boatworks, Cake Placid, Rick’s Taxi and Griffith Energy – lost nearly everything as a result of the fire.

“The turnout has been great,” Chris Ericson, owner of the pub, said at about 6 p.m. “You never know how many people are going to show up. We got a lot of support from businesses. But it’s nice to see people coming out on kind of a Green Bay-esque night and supporting the cause. I’m very happy.”

The event featured a silent auction, which included items donated by businesses from across the Tri-Lakes – too many to count. Stacey Byno, who helped organize the fundraiser, said she plans to list all the businesses and thank them publicly soon.

“I am very impressed with the turnout,” she said. “I’m excited.”

Byno said one big donation bucket was set up to collect donations for all of the businesses. She noted that Joe Moore, who owned the building as well as Placid Boatworks, said he wanted donations to his business to go to Rick’s Taxi, which will need to find a new base, repair vehicles and replace radio equipment. In a letter to the editor Thursday, Moore also urged people to send their donations to the other businesses.

Byno thanked Jamie Costa, Elizabeth Amell, Beth Sweet and the pub for helping to pull the fundraiser together.

Each item in the silent auction had a minimum bid amount, but people were going well above that amount since the proceeds went to the business owners. Additionally, $2 from each pint of beer sold between 4 and 8 p.m. went to Jennifer Gates, owner of Cake Placid, a popular local bakery.

“It’s amazing, overwhelming,” Gates said. “There’s so many people that have come out – people I haven’t seen in years. I’m at a loss for words.”

Gates said she’s trying to reopen her business as quickly as possible. She said she’s already looked at a few possible locations and will look at a few more today.

“Hopefully, I’ll narrow something down in the next week or so,” Gates said. “At the latest, I’m hoping to be open by April 1. It’s all a matter of when insurance is going to pull through and when I can get everything together. The sooner, the better.”

Kerry Shannon of Lake Placid was among the many local people perusing the tables that were chock full of silent auction prizes.

“Only in Lake Placid would you get a community to come together like this for all the business owners,” she said. “And a huge bravo to the first responders for being out there in 30 below all night, for 10 hours – it’s intense.”

Ericson estimated that at least 50 businesses had donated to the silent auction, but he “wouldn’t be surprised if it was creeping up on 100.

“We’ll know when we start doing the winners,” Ericson said.