LAKEGEORGE - A signature motorsports event of the Lake George Winter Carnival is expected to draw a formidable crowd this weekend, during the Lake George Winter Carnival.
The Adirondack Motor Enthusiast Club is returning to hold their sanctioned sports car ice races Saturday and Sunday Feb. 19 and 20 on the frozen surface of Lake George.
The races evoke spectator adrenaline, with vehicles careening around curves, inches away from each other, spewing rooster-tails of ice-shards from beneath spinning tires.
This longstanding races series features classic sports cars in various states of modification. Crowds of motor-sports enthusiasts enjoy not only the competition, but friendly chatting about the vehicles, their modifications and preparation for the races. Registration is at Longshots Restaurant.
In an entirely different vein, hundreds will enjoy the simple beauty of giant kite flying offered by the New York Kite Flying Enthusiasts organization on Saturday.
These expert kite flyers have been known to give instruction to others new to the relaxing, meditative sport.
Both Saturday and Sunday, activities include tethered hot air balloon rides starting at 8:30 a.m. - weather permitting - and a variety of children's activities and fun games for both youth and adults on the ice from noon to 2 p.m. A giant ice slide in Shepard Park is available during daylight hours over the weekend.
Also returning for both Saturday and Sunday are tethered hot-air balloon rides, children's indoor crafts and games from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. inside King Neptune's tavern.
New helicopter excursions join the ever-popular dog-sled rides and skydiving sessions over the ice - all available for a fee.
Of course, there's the carnival's trademark Polar Plunge event, featuring dozens of brave swimmers dashing into the frigid lake - a favorite spectator event set for 3 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday. The Plunge is preceded at 2:30 p.m. by the Snowmobile Water Skip, in which a sled pilot careens over open waters for 100 yards or more, defying gravity that could sink his snowmobile into the icy waters.
In addition, wood- and ice-carving demonstrations are to occur intermittently Saturday and Sunday.
Carnival activities include a bonfire on the Shepard Park Beach from 3 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, featuring marshmallow roasting and participants creating their own tasty s'mores with the savory ingredients provided. This heartwarming family activity includes Ritchie Ortiz leading campfire songs, Carnival official Kathi Kokalas said.
"Everybody's been really enjoying the bonfires and songs we're holding each week this year," she said.
Family games on the ice, from noon to 2 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday, include turkey bowling, hockey shoot, bean bag tosses and Frisbee throws, each for $1 which goes to support the Carnival, event official Kathi Kokalas said.
Sunkiss Ballooning will have a "Fly Off" on Saturday and Sunday at 8:30 a.m., weather permitting. A Hot Air Balloon MoonGlow event is also tentatively scheduled at dusk Saturday on the Lake, weather permitting. Rich Moran's Professional Scuba Center personnel will be performing ice diving demonstrations both days.
Kokalas said the crowds the past two weekends have been appreciative of the expanded range of activities, as well as the weather, which has been ideal for the Carnival events. She added the ice castle in Shepard Park has not only endured, but it's prompted a lot of compliments, along with ice sculptures that Lake George resident Tony Stratis donated.
"We have a very good crowd, way up from last year," she said. "Both attendance and attitudes are 'up.'"