During Lake George Winter Carnival’s final weekend for 2012, a group of polar swimmers relax on Shepard Park Beach before plunging into cold waters. About 65 swimmers, many in costumes, braved the waters of Lake George.
Despite fickle weather, the Lake George Winter Carnival prevailed in 2012 during its four-week run that concluded Sunday, organizers said.
The two mainstay elements for activities at the renowned winter festival — lake ice and a blanket of snow — were all but absent this year in its four-week run in February.
For a half century, the carnival has hosted a variety of races on the lake ice, as well as sled dog racing, toboggan rides and snowmobiling on thick blankets of snow.
This year, the lake never froze over as is traditional. There was also just a few dustings of snow, which never accumulated to any substantial degree.
But Mother Nature’s obstinate behavior didn’t faze Carnival volunteers, who moved some events off the lake and introduced new activities that weren’t weather dependent, event spokeswoman Nancy Nichols said.
“All the people working on the Carnival this year did an outrageous job dreaming up and conducting events that weren’t ice or snow dependent,” she said.
Whether it was turkey bowling, hula hoop contests, softball on the beach, zumba sessions or monster truck rides, visitors had plenty to do this year due to the Carnival volunteers’ creativity, she said.
The weather dampened attendance anyway, as warm weather and lack of snow cover didn’t infect the public with cabin fever, or prompt them to relate to winter activities, she said.
But he third weekend of the carnival did host robust crowds due to sunny weather and school vacation, she said.
Nichols praised the Public Works employees of both Lake George Village and Warren County, who arranged permits for relocated events, stockpiled man-made snow, and shifted logistics for the event that routinely attracts thousands.
This past weekend was relatively slow, due to light snow and wind on Saturday, and warmish weather on Sunday.
Several of the weekend’s substituted activities, non-weather-dependent, were squashed by unanticipated developments.
Carnival officials planned a beach party and Mardi Gras volleyball for Saturday, but ironically, light snow killed the concepts.
Also, the popular Tubby Tube slide —which careens down a ramp with or without snow — was foiled by thieves this past weekend, Nichols said. Someone broke into a storage shed on the beach and stole the four large heavy-duty tubes that children had enjoyed using on a setup this year in Shepard Park, Nichols said.
“Each day this year we had to work with the hand we were dealt,” she said. “The volunteers were wonderful with their positive attitudes.”
The ATV Poker Run, extended from the prior week, was well-received among vehicle enthusiasts.
Saturday’s chicken wing cookoff was popular, however, as was the polar plunge.
No less than 65 people tore into the 35-degree water at 3 p.m. Saturday, many in costume.
Nichols said whether they were dressed as pirates, aliens or comic-book heroes, they demonstrated both creativity and bravery.
Delighting the crowd, the swimmers went in and out of the water for an extended swim, she said.
Saturday, a crowd of 300 or so gathered around the Carnival beach bonfire, which has in recent years has become the fest’s signature event, Nichols said.
“Richie Ortiz and his music on guitar kept the people riveted to the Shepard Park beach after hours,” she said.
February 2012 was the first Carnival season ever to have both no ice and no snow, testing the ingenuity of Carnival staffers.
Five years ago, the lake didn’t freeze over, but the Carnival added sledding events, snow sculpture contests and ski races.
This year, really posed a challenge, she said, noting that she’s recommended planning backup kayak and paddleboat races if the weather doesn’t cooperate in February 2012.