Excellent choices for king and queen

Wow – what great choices those past Winter Carnival monarchs make for their successors.

We know Lee Foster and Cherie Racette very well, and they are brilliant representatives of Saranac Lake as king and queen. We’re thrilled for them, and for the community that elevates such good people to its highest pedestal.

It takes all kinds of people to run a community, and likewise to be king and queen. Some years’ monarchs are native Saranac Lakers, and some are at least somewhat known throughout the wider area. Last year’s Queen Kelly Morgan and King Tim Fortune were like that; their family names, if nothing else, are regionally familiar.

By contrast, you might have to live here to know who King Lee and Queen Cherie are, but if you do, you have to agree they’re just the kind of people we want up on those thrones. They weren’t born here – Cherie comes from Moira and Lee from Baltimore – but they are obviously devoted to this, their hometown.

Cherie is best known for her smile and warm, welcoming greetings to everyone she meets. She loves people, and people can’t help but love her in return. She has a wonderful community attitude, which is probably why she won the 2009 Trudeau Award for the person who best exemplifies the Winter Carnival spirit.

Her volunteer record is long but quiet, filled with behind-the-scenes work for children’s activities like running races, Boy Scouts and school affairs. She’s more a cheerleader than a front-line leader, so her name hasn’t been in this newspaper much except in the odd thank-you letter.

But if you know her, you know she’s a perfect Winter Carnival queen. She reflects happy small-town spirit in a radiant way, and we need that.

Lee is a guy whose volunteer resume does the talking. It’s easy to believe he’s helped with everything good that ever happened in the Tri-Lakes area since he moved here in 1976. Really, the man is everywhere. He’s amazing.

The long list given by the Winter Carnival folks doesn’t cover the half of it. We’re sure he’s done much more than we know, too, but we might as well tack on a few things.

Starting, appropriately, with Winter Carnival, last year he was a public ambassador for the Carnival at the Ice Palace site, wearing a red Winter Carnival jacket and answering visitors’ questions on everything from Carnival history and events to the location of the nearest restroom. He’s not only helped build the Ice Palace; he’s plowed the uncut lake ice to help it thicken, loaned equipment to the team effort and helped prepare for the slide show.

He’s volunteered in all 30 years of the 90-mile Adirondack Canoe Classic, as well as for the Ironman triathlon in and around Lake Placid.

Most importantly, though, he’s the kind of person who leaps into action to help with emergencies. He’s helped with search-and-rescue efforts and on the scenes of three hurricanes.

“I believe in helping people, and during a disaster, we can help a lot of people,” Foster said when asked why he’s an amateur radio operator. Simple and straightforward – that’s Lee.

Such service can’t go unnoticed. He’s won both individual honors bestowed by the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce – Citizen of the Year and Volunteer of the Year – as well as the Winter Carnival’s Service and Trudeau awards, and the Adirondack Canoe Classic’s Terry Healy Award, selected by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

He doesn’t do it for the honors, but that’s why he deserves them.

This is going to be a great week, and we at the Enterprise are proud to join the community in saying, “All hail Queen Cherie and King Lee!”

(Editor’s note: A reference to Mr. Foster helping convert Roland Patnode’s bus into a mobile emergency radio hub has been removed.)