In the annual outhouse race at the Lake George Winter Carnival Saturday, Lake George Fire Department members pulling their hydrant-shaped outhouse are surpassed in a preliminary heat by members of the Out of Control Ski Club of Albany (foreground). The Lake George firefighters were hampered by the constrictions of their firefighting gear and the weight of their fireplug-on-skis.
Curtis Condon of Adirondack Studios stood on the ice of Lake George Saturday, watching various teams haul their homemade outhouses into position for elimination heats in the annual Lake George Winter Carnival outhouse race as hundreds of people cheered intermittently.
Condon, the paint shop foreman for the famed scenery design firm, had two outhouse teams entered — a craft titled “Bat Girl” craft and another named “TNT.”
Condon has been responsible, Adirondack Studios owner Tom Lloyd explained from the sidelines, for the firm’s 12 years of victories — or near-wins — in the Lake George outhouse races.
Condon has a taste for speed, Lloyd explained. As a hobby, Condon builds competition race cars.
The studio’s TNT entry was modified this year to gain a fraction of a second in speed. The back wall of the outhouse was re-designed this year to split and swing open as it took off from the finish line, Condon explained.
“It’s a matter of cutting air resistance,” he said.
Glancing at the team from Sans Souci Restaurant of Cleverdale — with its runners garbed in pink tutus — Condon said long-standing outhouse race had an unwritten code of conduct, and competitors have respect for each other’s team and their entries.
“It’s important if you win, you don’t rub it in,” he said. “We’re here primarily to have fun.”
Helping push one of the Adirondack Studios’ contraptions were Kyland Rafferty, Josh Beadnell along with Olin Ellsworth, a professional rodeo competitor who tours nationally.
“Steer wrestling is ‘kid stuff’ compared to pushing an outhouse across ice,” he said as he examined the roofing screws embedded in the soles of his shoes.
New in the celebrated race this year was an entry from northern Warren County. It was the brainchild of Amy Sabattis of North River, who is an employee of Warren County Cornell Cooperative Extension in Warrensburg.
She discovered a Fiberglass outhouse shell offered for free on Craigslist, hauled it home, decorated it in camouflage colors, and named it “Dump Dynasty” as a take-off on the popular A&E cable-television reality show. Her team was dressed in hunters’ camouflage and sported long beards, both real and fake.
“I was surfing Craigslist, saw this outhouse, and I thought ‘What the heck, why not,’” she said. Sabattis’ brother Steven organized the team: Ike Allen of Warrensburg, Will Davis of North River and Brian Hammond of Chester, Sabattis explained.
“My brother took over and got this team together when my co-workers bailed out on me,” she said.
Other competitors in the race included a real bride, Kerry Demarest of Ithaca, sitting garbed in her wedding dress and holding her bouquet of roses in a 550-pound plywood outhouse built by her stepfather. She and her new husband Jason had been married the prior day at the Inn at Erlowest. Well-wishers signed sentiments on the wall of the white-outhouse in lieu of a wedding guestbook.
Nearby, a group of competitors surrounding a outhouse shaped like the bow of a rowboat were brushing off the ice studs on their sports shoes. The craft was sponsored by Hall’s Boat Corp. of Lake George. Inside the craft was Sean Lamando, son of the firm’s manager Nick.
In the 2013 outhouse race, Hall’s Boat was a runner-up in the competition, and for 2014, they installed thinner, faster runners and removed a floor to eliminate dead weight, Nick Lamando said.
“We got ‘psyched’ about this race last year and decided to have a good comeback for 2014,” he said. Pushing their rig were Cassisus Allen, Robbie Ford and Dylan Stein, all teenagers from Lake George.
A new entry in the outhouse race for 2014 was a team from the Lake George Fire Department. The firefighters pushed a bulky outhouse, fashioned to resemble a giant red fire hydrant down the ice. Paul Sullivan, Mike Berry, Matt Oswald, Joe Oswald and Alan Moon had a considerable disadvantage, pushing their heavy creation down the ice while wearing full turnout gear.
Also competing was an outhouse from King Neptune’s tavern of Lake George. After a test run of the new entry, Neptune employee Devin O’Brien, noted that their outhouse was built so heavy a rope broke sending one of the racers tumbling. His team included Shawn Gorman of Lake George, Blake Saunders and Matt Parsons.
“We’ll lighten this up for next year,” O’Brien said after their team lost two qualifier races.
After a half-dozen or so runs, the athleticism of the Adirondack Studios TNT team and their savvy outhouse-engineering work earned them the 2014 championship.
The Sans Souci team came in second. Team coordinators and restaurant proprietors Linda Goodman and Scott Parker said earlier they enjoyed competing although they always came in third or fourth over the last eight years. Sans Souci’s involvement in the annual race stretches back 15 years earlier, under the prior owners of the restaurant, Parker said.
“This is a fun community thing,” he said.