January 31, 2014

Winter Carnival ready with Ice Palace assembled

SARANAC LAKE — The Winter Carnival Ice Palace is built. Lights are staged inside the turret walls. 

And Mayor Clyde Rabideau has challenged Plattsburgh’s City Council to a snowball fight on Sunday.

Saranac Lake’s Celtic Winter Carnival is ramped up and ready, promising wintry rounds of fun, games and fanfare for 10 days straight.


In a contest challenge sent spontaneously on Tuesday, Rabideau, a former Plattsburgh mayor, invited some friendly fire with ice.

“I invite you to The Capital of the Adirondacks — Saranac Lake — this Sunday to join ‘The Mayor’s Snow Ball Toss Challenge’…in the ‘Government’ division,” Rabideau said in emails to Plattsburgh city lawmakers.

“It’s a single-elimination tournament format … and the winners get prizes plus bragging rights.

“The Saranac River ends in your city, so you must come to where those precious waters emanate,” Rabideau cajoled.

On Wednesday morning, Plattsburgh Mayor Jim Calnon’s assistant, Beth Carlin, said the challenge from Saranac Lake had just arrived.

Calnon isn’t able to go — he has other obligations this weekend, Carlin said — but city councilors were considering the invite.


Crews in Saranac Lake had completed palace construction days in advance of the carnival kickoff.

The finished structure features an ice dragon carved by sculptor Robin Johnson. A maze behind the palace connects to the inner throne room with a “mole-hole” tunnel, a popular feature, especially for children.

Jeff Branch, former village trustee, helped build the icy edifice with the Ice Palace Workers (I.P.W.) Local 101, a volunteer “union” that cuts, moves and lays giant blocks of ice each year.

With air temperatures pressed to 24 below zero, the last blocks pulled from Lake Flower came out 19 inches thick.

The unique buzz-saw-on-wheels invented for harvesting ice here goes only 11 inches into the frozen lake.

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