Local News

January 6, 2014

Celtic Carnival buttons signal Saranac Lake's mid-winter fete

SARANAC LAKE — The deep freeze from sub-zero air means good ice here. 

And in this village, ice signals the return of Saranac Lake’s Winter Carnival and the necessary palace-building materials.

It appears there will be little, if any, concern for ice thickness on Pontiac Bay this year.

Carnival spokeswoman Colleen O’Neill said they found it was 12 inches thick last week on the Lake Flower ice field.

“We had a thaw, but it should be even thicker by now,” O’Neill said of the impact of the descending Arctic cold that started at minus-14 degrees Fahrenheit on Friday.

“This is all good for us,” she quipped.


The construction schedule for the Ice Palace has not been finalized. But Winter Carnival buttons are in.

Designed by Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau, they celebrate the “Celtic Carnival” theme deigned for festivities this year.

Trudeau has drawn the artwork for Winter Carnival buttons since 1981. He is the great-grandson of Dr. Edward L. Trudeau, an early infectious-diseases scientist and founder of Trudeau Institute. 

In 1897, Dr. Trudeau was president of the Pontiac Club, a local winter sports men’s club that invented Winter Carnival in the first place.

O’Neill said the buttons will be available in downtown stores starting today and Tuesday.

At $4 each, they give Carnival-goers access to many of the dozens of events lined up this year. Many people collect the annual buttons, as well.


Saranac Lake’s 10-day Winter Carnival begins Jan. 31 and runs through Feb. 9, with celebrations, music and contests every day.

The upcoming fete marks a span of 117 years in carnival time, which hearkens back to 1897 and the winter antics of the Pontiac Club.

The origin of Winter Carnival was a fancy-dress event held on a single day, Feb. 17, 1897, according to Historic Saranac Lake records online.

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