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Knights in shining armor are a highlight of this year's parade (Photos:  Brian Mann)
Knights in shining armor are a highlight of this year's parade (Photos: Brian Mann)

Pride, parade, and the pulse of Saranac Lake

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Saranac Lake's Winter Carnival closed yesterday with a cascade of fireworks over the ice palace on the shore of Lake Flower.

While the castle is the centerpiece of the 114 year old carnival, one of the most revered traditions is the annual parade.

It's a showcase of all the energy, joy and creativity that the village has to offer. Brian Mann was on hand for this year's festivities and sent an audio postcard.

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Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

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Just after one o’clock, the Saranac Lake High School Marching band parades down Main Street, their jerseys bright red. 

Matt Paul, who performed as a clown in this year’s Rotary Show, watches from one of the balconies above the street.  

"We're looking out over the Bloomingdale School [float].  They've got a great contingent of little knights and princesses and a little dragon coming along behind them.  Crowds are just packed up to the ropes.  We've got a nice snow fall here today.  It's bright and sunny, but we've got a lovely snow falling on the Winter Carnival parade."

As small town parades go, the Winter Carnival in Saranac Lake is sort of the gold standard.  Yes, you have traditional marching bands.

But you also have a horde of people dressed as sock monkeys from the Waterhole and you have the Lawn Chair Ladies playing their lawn chairs like castanets.

This isn’t a Macy’s style parade, with big balloons or professionally crafted floats.  It’s all local passion and energy. 

"We are looking at the finest that Saranac Lake has to offer," said Jason Brill who marched with the Green Circle float. "This yearly event just makes my soul soar.  And only in a place like this.  Only in small towns that still have that thing going on — villages!"

"Bring out your dead!  Bring out your dead!" the crowd chants as Paul Smiths College's horse-drawn wagon passes.

In a play on the year's Medieval theme, the float reprises the Monty Pythonesque "black death" skit.  There is also a battle re-enactment, with knights skirmishing with British redcoats and Civil War re-enactors.

"It's kind of silly, but in the best of ways," says Susan Olsen who watches from the windows of her shop on Main Street.

"It's so wonderful to live in a town that does this every single year!"

This was the 114th year for the Winter Carnival.  Even as the snow fell, you could feel the energy here and the joy — taking a big bite out of the long, cold season.

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