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Saranac Lake Winter Carnival

Local volunteers give a tour of the ice palace at the annual carnival. Watch (QuickTime video 1:42)

Aggie Pelletieri describes how winter carnival has been a part of all her life in Saranac Lake. Listen (Real 1:08)

Don Duso explains how the ice palace is built each year. Listen (Real 0:59)

Katie Fobare and Jacques DeMattos relate the importance of volunteer efforts in Saranac Lake. Listen (Real 0:57)

The Saranac Lake Winter Carnival was the subject of this February 7, 2000 profile jointly produced for radio by Traditional Arts in Upstate New York and North Country Public Radio. Listen (Real 4:16)

In 1897, the citizens of Saranac Lake decided to create some entertainment for the growing number of tuberculosis patients who had come there for "the cure." Local organizers started out with two days of skating races, harness races on the ice, a parade, and a fancy costume ball. By 1898, with the aid of an architect there for his health, the carnival added an "ice fortress" to the event. Later on, the Ice Palace became an annual highlight. Early this century, it became increasingly elaborate, with towers and turrets, electric lights, and a grand finale, which included "storming the palace," first with torches, later with fireworks. Today, scores of volunteers become involved in every aspect of the festival. By its recent centennial celebration, the carnival included races, snow sculptures, concerts, dinners, dances, the crowning of royalty and a proud claim to be the oldest festival of its kind in the country.

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