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This was... the last hurrah before Thanksgiving and Christmas. You gotta make it now or never.

Adirondack tourism boosted over holiday by Canadian visitors

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It's been a complicated summer for Adirondack tourism businesses, with Lake Champlain flooded in the spring and travel routes through the mountains closed for weeks by tropical storm Irene in August and September. But an informal survey of shops in the Park found that the Columbus Day weekend was a busy one, driven in large part by visitors from Canada. Chris Morris has our story.

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Chris Morris
Tri-Lakes Correspondent

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“Totally record breaking.”

That’s how Katie Wilson, owner of Adirondack Attic in Keene, described how her business fared over Columbus Day weekend, which was also Thanksgiving in Canada.

Wilson’s shop specializes in selling donated used goods, from housewares and kitchen items to clothing and furniture. She says business over the long holiday weekend was up by about 30 percent when compared to 2010 and 2009.

Wilson says ideal weather and fall foliage played a big part in the weekend’s success. And she adds that pent-up demand following Tropical Storm Irene may have helped.

“I wonder if some of the hype from Irene and things being reopened and people not having come up for the last month sort of put an exclamation point after ‘Adirondacks,’” Wilson said. 

The additional Columbus Day business capped a summer that Wilson says was somewhat disappointing. She says flooding triggered by Irene turned away hordes of potential customers on Labor Day weekend.

“Labor Day was a disappointment, as were a couple of the other holidays,” Wilson said. “All the big weekends for me this year weren’t as big as in the last two. So this was huge. It means a lot to people, being the last hurrah before Thanksgiving and Christmas. You gotta make it now or never.” 

“We had a lot more people in town, the foliage was definitely a lot brighter than last year, so it definitely drew a lot more people in,” said Al Gallup, retail supervisor at High Peaks Cyclery in Lake Placid. “And because of the flooding that happened near Labor Day, I think a lot of people wanted to get out in the backcountry and go hiking, so that was definitely a good boost for the area.” 

Gallup says most of his customers were Canadians who opted to spend their Thanksgiving holiday stateside.

“We had a lot of people really interested in renting mountain bikes, road bikes, and looking for general information on where to go, and also a lot of boat rentals,” he said. 

Jim McKenna, president of the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism in Lake Placid, says it’s too early to put hard numbers on the weekend’s success.

But he says the weekend passed the eyeball survey with flying colors.

“Through August, we were running about even with last year,” McKenna said. “I think the beginning of September was probably a little bit quiet, so a busy weekend like this one is welcome. It will probably put us right on track to be a little bit ahead or even with last year by the end of this month, I would guess.”

Business owners in Saranac Lake also reported an uptick in activity over the weekend, and in Tupper Lake, two big events – OkTUPPERfest at the Big Tupper Ski Area and FeatherFest at the Wild Center – attracted more than 2,000 weekend visitors.

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