Ice palace crowns N.Y.’s winter carnival

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Dear Sun Spots: I would be interested in finding out about the ice festival they have in Lake Placid, N.Y. They have such beautiful pictures of the ice sculptures on the computer, and I would love to go see it in person. When does it happen? Thank you so much for your help again. – Lucy Cyr, Mechanic Falls.

Answer: You might want to check out www.lakeplacid.com for a more thorough listing of events. Click on the link for the annual winter carnival, which takes place at Saranac Lake (www.saranaclake.com). It’s the site of one of the oldest winter carnivals in the country complete with an ice palace. The next winter carnival is scheduled for Feb. 2-11, 2007.

In the meantime, you and others might be interested in the history of this event. Its origins can be found in Saranac Lake’s history as a world-famous health resort. In 1897, the first year of the event, the village was already a thriving community nestled deep in the Adirondack wilderness, its pristine setting providing rejuvenation for hundreds of tuberculosis sufferers drawn there from all over North America. In the course of “taking the cure,” many patients experienced a renewed passion for life, and took every opportunity – in every season – to explore the natural beauty that surrounded them.

The long, cold Adirondack winters with snow-covered mountains and ice-covered lakes offer an array of activities begging to be enjoyed on skis, sleds and skates. Thus, to break winter’s chill and to promote outdoor sports and games, the Pontiac Club was formed in 1896, and a year later they sponsored the first Mid-Winter Carnival.

The first carnival was a two-day affair that sponsored skating races, a parade and an ice tower – features that have been, in one form or another, part of every carnival since.

The current carnival is 10 days long and begins with the coronation of the king and queen. Each carnival revolves around a theme and offers a selection of sporting events, including snowshoe and Nordic ski races, inner tube and alpine ski races, skating races, broom ball and hockey games, volleyball played in knee-deep snow, softball played on snowshoes and a competitive display of traditional logging skills.

About six weeks before, an ice field is marked off on Pontiac Bay on Lake Flower. Then, once a suitable ice thickness has been achieved, cutting with long ice saws begins. The blocks taken from the lake are 2 feet wide and 4 feet long and from 1½ to 3 feet thick and weigh between 400 and 800 pounds. They are moved onto the shore via a conveyor belt and maneuvered into place. The blocks are secured to one another with a “mortar” made of slush. While designs may vary, each palace has, on average, more than 1,500 blocks in it and ranges from 70 to 90 feet in length and 40 to 60 feet in height. Within each design is a system of colored lights that transform the palace into a vivid sculpture of ice and light each night.

Upcoming dates for the carnival are Feb. 2-11, 2007; Feb. 1-10, 2008; and Feb. 6-15, 2009. For more on this and other Lake Placid events, contact (800)447-5224 or (518) 523-2445, Lake Placid/Essex County Convention and Visitors Bureau, 2610 Main St., Suite 2, Lake Placid, NY 12946.

Dear Sun Spots: A few months ago, there was a recipe for pineapple stuffing. It was an awesome recipe, but I have misplaced it. Could you please print it again? – No Name, No Town.

Answer: Sun Spots is unsure where you located this recipe in the paper. So perhaps there are readers out there who would be willing to share a recipe with you.

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