Winter Carnival a-float

SARANAC LAKE – Local businesses, organizations and groups worked hurriedly Friday to complete their “Under the Sea”-themed floats and finalize their routines in preparation for today’s Winter Carnival Gala Parade.

“This is crunch time,” Chris Nobles said as he and a group of kids and parents assembled the Dewey Mountain Recreation Center’s fish-tank float in a garage near the Dorsey Street parking lot Friday evening. “There will be some kids inside with cardboard fish and turtle costumes, and a monster squid hanging from the top. We’re just about wrapped up. It’s just a matter of putting the squid together and working on a few finishing touches.”

The parade, the biggest event of the 10-day Carnival, gets under way at 1 p.m. Floats, marching groups, bands and other performers will move down Broadway, from its intersection with Ampersand Avenue, through downtown and onto Main Street, where the entries will be judged by this year’s royalty in front of the Harrietstown Town Hall.

Winter Carnival parade coordinator Eric Foster said there are 67 units in this year’s parade. Last year’s hit a high point with more than 80.

“There will be a few less than last year, but that’s in keeping with what we’ve had the years before that,” Foster said. “From what I’ve seen and heard, I think people are really embracing the theme, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Last year, St. Joseph’s Addiction Treatment and Recovery Centers took first place in the business group class for their “Space Alien Invasion”-themed float. St. Joseph’s CEO Bob Ross said they’re ready to defend their title.

“We will have a yellow submarine in the parade and all the appropriate aquatic accompaniment,” Ross said Friday. “The residents and the staff have been working on it for a few weeks, and it’s really fun.”

Ross added that he’ll be wearing an “appropriately ridiculous costume” that will be nautical in theme.

Groups that will be marching in today’s parade have also been gearing up, and in some cases rehearsing for weeks. Among those is a second-year group called the Canoodlers, a Saranac Lake-based canoe-paddle-carrying drill team that took first place in the independent walking group category last year, besting crowd favorite the Lawn Chair Ladies.

“We actually started practicing in November,” said chief canoodler Susan Waters. “We’re trying to defend our title with some fresh moves and some experience.”

“The theme was a little challenging for us in terms of choosing a song, especially because as Canoodlers we try to stay above the water, but we’ll be going on a sea cruise.”

The final weekend of Winter Carnival was ushered in Friday with a major winter storm – coincidentally named Nemo, like the fish in the animated movie “Finding Nemo.” The area was blanketed in 6 to 10 inches of snow, which created perfect conditions for the annual inner-tube races at Mount Pisgah Ski Center on Friday morning.

The snow was still coming down hard Friday night as a crowd of about 80 people huddled together in Berkeley Green for a downtown movie night, a new event on the Carnival schedule this year. Several aquatic-themed Looney Tunes cartoons and an episode of the late 1950s-era show “Sea Hunt,” starring Lloyd Bridges, were shown.

Village Trustee Barbara Rice, one of the event’s organizers, was thrilled with the turnout.

“I’m extremely happy,” she said. “I didn’t expect anything less, because this is Saranac Lake and when you say outdoor anything, what do you think is going to happen? People come. The weather turned out to be perfect.”

Earlier Friday, Winter Carnival Committee Chairman Jeff Dickson said he didn’t expect the weather to have any impact on Carnival.

“Every single event planned for the weekend is on track and on schedule,” he said. “The only inconvenience to the public is the fact that the village is closing some streets (sections of Main Street and Broadway) to remove snow for the parade, and that’s a good thing.”

The Enterprise received notice late Friday that one event had fallen victim to the weather. The Paul Smith’s College Alumni Reunion, scheduled for Saturday afternoon under a tent in the Sears parking lot, has been canceled due to weather-related issues, a college spokesman said in an email.

Contact Chris Knight at 518-891-2600 ext. 24 or