Posts Tagged ‘Lake George’

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities: Random Acts of Shakespeare

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities
Random Acts of Shakespeare is a newly formed theatre group with the hope of making Shakespeare accessible through the popular form of “flash mobs.”

Founder and Director April Iovino wants to draw attention to the fact that Shakespeare is not stuffy or boring, that the plays of Shakespeare are as relevant today as they were 400 years ago.

Iovino and the fledging group of 12 or so actors thought that one way to appeal to people would be to perform “flash mob” Shakespeare in various places. Armed with the more mainstream quotes, passages and soliloquies, Random Acts of Shakespeare made its debut during the Lake George Winter Carnival.

Iovino says, “ We decided to start performing scenes and monologues from the passages of Shakespeare that people would recognize. We wanted to demonstrate how popular Shakepeare still is, how Shakespearean plays have gotten into our popular culture without people even knowing it.”

She begins to rattle off well-known pieces in general pop culture, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears”, from the play Julius Caesar or Hamlet’s, “To be our not to be: that is the question.” The list goes on.

“Romeo and Juliet is once again being remade and currently in the theatres as a cartoon,” reminds Iovino. “ This was an experiment to see if people were interested. We want to entertain the general public in an unconventional way.

“We are all involved in theatre in some capacity,” Iovino speaks about the other troupe members. “I have a Bachelor’s in Theatre from SUNY Plattsburgh and have worked with Schuylerville Community Theatre and the Hudson River Shakespeare Company. I then asked my theatre friends if they were interested in performing.”

“The idea to start at the Lake George Winter Carnival came quickly and everything fell into place,” says Iovino. “We needed to get dates and times. We needed to get the piece to memorize. We then went to Shepard’s Park by the beach and just started spewing out Shakespeare. I hope it is something we can do in other areas. We hope that other venues will open up to us. We hope to get the information out there, outside of a traditional theatre setting.”

The whole purpose of performing in a “flash mob” format was to expose Shakespeare’s works to the general public in a similar vein as a street performer or performance artist and, judging from the feedback they’ve received, it worked.

To date, Random Acts of Shakespeare’ troupe consists of April Iovio, SaraBeth Oddy, Molly Oddy, Jenelle Hammond, Jeremy Hammond, David Lundgren, Sereh Lundgren, Lisa Grabbe, Jeremy Grebbe, Andy Haag, Nik Korobovsky, Kate LeBoeuf and Sara Lestage

Iovino and the rest of Random Acts of Shakespeare are looking to broaden their scope to include school groups and other venues. Anyone can email or find them on Facebook to set up performances. As Iovino and Shakespeare remind us, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players” As You Like It.

Photo used with permission of Random Acts of Shakespeare


content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George. 


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Berry Pond Tract: Headwaters of West Brook

Purchased in 2008 by the Lake George Land Conservancy, the Berry Pond Tract protects 1,436 acres within the towns of Lake George, Warrensburg, and Lake Luzerne. This tract of land contains ecologically important wetlands, ponds, vernal pools and the headwaters of West Brook. The purchase was made possible in part through a loan from the Open Space Conservancy (OSC) and funding provided by the Helen V. Froehlich Foundation.

The Berry Pond Tract is home to many forms of wildlife. There are several active beaver populations and a small Great Blue Heron rookery. This purchase provides expanded outdoor recreational resources including some amazing views of the lake. It also connects nearly 10,000 acres of protected land and protects the headwaters of West Brook, the single largest source of contaminants to the South Basin of Lake George.

West Brook is one of the largest, most polluted streams in the Lake George Watershed. A substantial section of the downstream portion has impervious surface streamside, which contributes large amounts of stormwater runoff. Studies have indicated high readings of specific conductance (indicator of instream pollution), excessive amounts of Nitrogen and Phosphorus as well as substrate covering algal blooms. West Brook is important habitat for wildlife and spawning fish, however most of the downstream substrate is silt and sand. The streams course has been altered and channalized, thus speeding up the current. There is very limited riparian cover along the downstream portions, most being of non-native species. The lack of cover results in higher water temperatures and lower dissolved oxygen levels.

Protecting the headwaters of a stream is important to the overall health of the stream, however what takes place in the downstream sections can adversely impair the lake. That is why the West Brook Conservation Initiative was formed. This project to restore and protect Lake George is a collaborative campaign between the FUND for Lake George, the Lake George Land Conservancy and the Lake George Association. The main goal is to eliminate the largest source of contaminants to the South Basin. For more information on the West Brook Conservation Initiative and the science behind West Brook, visit the FUND for Lake George website.

Access to the Berry Pond Tract hiking trails is via the Lake George Recreation Center Trail System. For more information on the Berry Pond Tract, check out the Lake George Land Conservancy website at: http://lglc.org or join me in a snowshoe during the Winter Warm Up, at the Lake George Recreation Center on Saturday March 12, 2011 from 10am till 2pm. Bring your family and friends to this free event hosted by the Lake George Land Conservancy. Warm up by the bonfire; enjoy tasty treats donated by local businesses and take part in a guided snowshoe or other activities for all ages.

Come out and join me during the snowshoe and learn more about the Berry Pond Tract and West Brook. I hope to see you there.

Photo: “All” West Brook, Lake George NY. Compliments Blueline Photography, Jeremy Parnapy.

Corrina Parnapy is a Lake George native and a naturalist who writes regularly about the environment and Adirondack natural history for the Adirondack Almanack.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Six Charged in ‘Ethan Allen’ Insurance Fraud Case

A federal prosecutor in Houston, Texas, has charged the owners of an insurance company with committing the fraud that left Shoreline Cruises unprotected when its 40 ft tour boat, the Ethan Allen, capsized on Lake George in 2005, leaving 20 people dead.

United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced on February 18 that Christopher Purser, 49, of Houston, and five other defendants have been charged with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to launder money.

Jim Quirk, the president of Shoreline Cruises, said he had provided information to the Internal Revenue Service and the US Attorney’s office and had offered to travel to Houston to testify against the defendants.

According to Quirk, he paid premiums on a $2 million policy for approximately two years before the Ethan Allen capsized. Two weeks after the accident, he was told the policy he had purchased did not exist.

The indictment alleges that Purser backdated documents after the Ethan Allen accident to make it appear that Shoreline Cruises had not purchased coverage while the vessel was operating on Lake George when, in fact, Shoreline had purchased exactly that type insurance policy. The indictment also alleges that none of the insurance companies involved in Ethan Allen’s insurance policy had the financial ability to pay the claims.

Quirk said that he was provided documents that purported to show that the insurer had the means to pay any claims. Those documents were false, the indictment alleges.

One of the defendants, Malchus Irvin Boncamper, a Chartered Certified Accountant, allegedly prepared fraudulent financial statements and audit reports that were transmitted to Shoreline Cruises to create the false appearance that its insurers had financial strength.

In 2008, Shoreline Cruises, Quirk’s Marine Rentals and boat captain Richard Paris settled lawsuits filed by the families of those who who died in the accident. The terms of the settlement remain confidential.

The conspiracy, wire fraud and obstruction of justice charges each carry a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years imprisonment and a fine of not more than $250,000.

According to US Attorney Moreno, the charges are the result of an intensive, four year investigation conducted by the Internal Revenue Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations, the Texas Dept. of Insurance, the New York State Dept. of Insurance, the California Dept. of Insurance and several foreign governments.

Photo: Lake George Mirror files.

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror
or visit Lake George Mirror Magazine.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Lake George Goes to Court to Protect Public Spaces

William Caldwell, the son of the founder of the settlement at the head of Lake George, continues to play a role in local affairs 150 years after his death.

While owning the majority of property in the community (including the so-called McGillis tract, which remained undeveloped until 1898, when his will was finally settled), William Caldwell deeded space for public purposes, including a site for a court house and rights of way for roads and sidewalks.

Now that it has been awarded a $536,000 grant to rebuild the west side of its main street, the Village of Lake George wants to come to terms with businesses that have encroached upon the space that Caldwell donated to the new municipality for the public right of way.

In preparation for sidewalk renovations, the Village is seeking a judicial determination that the space belongs to the public, not the business owners.

Lake George Village’s Board of Trustees have resolved questions arising from encroachments with several building owners, but the owners of at least four buildings dispute the Village’s claims of ownership.

A Warren County Supreme Court judge is expected to issue an opinion sometime this spring, said Mayor Bob Blais.

William Caldwell’s father, James, laid the foundations of the family fortune (and the community that would bear his name) in a store in Albany, where his wife tended counter. In time, Caldwell came to own a group of mills in which all sorts of articles, from hair powder to chocolate, were made.

Despite the fact that he was a Federalist, and the Governor, George Clinton, was a Jeffersonian, James Caldwell’s application to purchase land from the state commission charged with selling the state’s unappropriated and waste lands was accepted, and he acquired one of the largest tracts that the commission sold. Early in 1800, he purchased the site of Fort William Henry and a tract of land around it known as Garrison Ground from Columbia and Union Colleges, which had received them from the State.

Within ten years, James and William Caldwell had built twenty houses. When Timothy Dwight, president of Yale, visited the village in 1811, he remarked that he was surprised to find “a beautiful village.”

The renovation of Canada Street’s west side will include new sidewalks, lights, benches, a state-of-the art storm water management system and, among other plantings, disease-resistant elm trees.

The project is expected to be completed this spring, said Mayor Blais.

Photos: Encroachments into the public right of way began as early as the 1920s.
Canada Street today.

For more news from Lake George, read the Lake George Mirror
or visit Lake George Mirror Magazine


Friday, February 11, 2011

Lake George Towns Seeking Eco-Tourists

Lake George’s miles of hiking, skiing and snowshoe trails are an untapped resource for tourists and day-trippers, an oversight Bolton Supervisor Ron Conover hopes to correct.

On behalf of the Town and the Village of Lake George, the Town of Hague and Bolton itself, Conover will submit an application to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for an $80,000 grant to create a comprehensive inventory of the public hiking trails in the Lake George watershed.

The final product would include graphics showing the public trail heads, lake access points, public docking areas, links to downtown business districts, trolley stops, various attractions, and recreational, historic and cultural resources, said Tracey Clothier of the LA Group, who will write the grant application.

According to Clothier, funds are available through the state’s Adirondack Park Community Smart Growth Grant Program.
The DEC seeks proposals for planning initiatives that link environmental protection, economic development and community livability, Clothier said.

“The Smart Growth program promotes sustainable economic development, and this proposal envisions a powerful tool to attract a new audience and bring significant new visitor dollars to the area,” said Clothier. “We’re appealing to the kind of experiential tourist who seeks a deep appreciation of an area’s unique natural and cultural history, the kind who will keep coming back.”

Clothier said the completed plan will also identify gaps in the trail system and examine potential alternatives for developing links between Lake George and Bolton, said Clothier.

Trails to be inventoried include not only those on state and municipal owned lands, but trails in the Lake George Land Conservancy’s nature preserves, said Clothier.

In fact, Clothier said, the project complements the Lake George Land Conservancy’s “Round the Lake Challenge.”

Similar to the Adirondack Mountain Club’s Forty-Sixer program, the “Round the Lake Challenge” encourages hikers to climb local peaks, paddle bays and marshes, and visit natural, historic, and cultural landmarks.

A detailed master plan for the east side of Lake George would be completed during a second phase of the project, said Clothier.

Photos: Lake George Wild Forest; Paddling in Northwest Bay.

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror
or visit http://www.lakegeorgemirrormagazine.com


Friday, February 4, 2011

Lake George Groups Praise Cuomo’s Choice to Head DEC

Joe Martens, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s choice to become the state’s new Commissioner of Environmental Conservation, was instrumental in protecting the 1,423-acre Berry Pond Tract on Prospect Mountain that includes the headwaters of West Brook.

Protecting the land was a crucial part of the West Brook Conservation Initiative, a $15 million project to restore the water quality of Lake George’s south basin; as president of the Open Space Institute, Martens arranged a $2.64 million loan to the Lake George Land Conservancy to buy the property.

“We wouldn’t have been able to protect the Berry Pomd Tract without OSI, and Joe Martens was instrumental in securing the OSI’s loan to the Conservancy,” said Nancy Williams, executive director of the Lake George Land Conservancy.

“Joe Martens understood the importance of the Berry Pond tract and the necessity to protect it from development if we are to protect the water quality of Lake George,” said Walt Lender, the executive director of the Lake George Association.

When Cuomo announced that he would nominate Martens to head the Department of Environmental Conservation on January 4, Lake George conservation groups were unanimous in their praise.

“Joe Martens has a strong grasp of the importance of Lake George to this area’s economy and way of life. We expect him to be an advocate for protecting the environment around the state and around Lake George; we all know that when we protect the lake, we protect this area’s most important economic asset,” said Peter Bauer, Executive Director of the FUND for Lake George.

“It’s a positive sign that someone who’s already familiar with our issues, who has an intimate knowledge of Lake George and the Adirondacks, has been appointed to the position,” said Lender.

“We feel his experience and leadership on conservation issues will set a good precedent for the Department and hopefully sets a strong commitment for the new administration on environmental issues,”
said Chris Navitsky, Lake George Waterkeeper.

According to The Fund for Lake George, Martens brings a long resume in state government to the new position. In addition to serving as president of the Open Space Institute and president of ORDA, he worked in the State Legislature, as an administrator at the Adirondack Park Agency, and as a top environmental aide to Governor Mario Cuomo.

Martens studied Resource Economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and received an M.S. in Resource Management from the State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry at Syracuse University.

Photo: Tim Barnett, Adirondack Nature Conservancy; Dave Decker, Lake George Watershed Coalition; Peter Bauer, The Fund for Lake George; Mayor Bob Blais, Lake George Village; Walt Lender, Lake George Association; Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward; DEC Region 5 director Betsy Lowe; Nancy Williams, Lake George Land Conservancy; with Joe Martens in Lake George to announce the protection of the Berry Pond Tract, 2008.

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities: Adirondack Winter Carnivals

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities

When the weather hits the negative digits and my kids are stuck inside for any length of time we, like so many other people living here, look forward to opportunities for getting outside. Though with winter storms, weather warning and family time spent shoveling snow, it may be difficult to remember all the reason why we love the snow.

Festivals, carnivals and celebrations of winter are here to remind us why we choose to visit, live and be a part of the snow. Plus a little competition never hurt anyone. Lake George, Old Forge and Saranac Lake are embracing their winter spirit and inviting people to step outside and enjoy the Adirondack weather.

The Coronation of Carnival Royalty kicks off the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival on February 4th.In its 114 year, Saranac Lake’s Winter Carnival’s 2011 theme is Medieval Times. People have been donning their costumes and preparing their serfs (in our case our children) to decide which of the over 80 events to attend.

On Saturday, February 5, watch fireworks over Lake Flower and the lighting of the Ice Palace. From February 4-13, the town of Saranac Lake turns into a medieval fortress of family-friendly activities from a carnival for kids, ski races to treasure hunt. The downtown parade on the 12th doesn’t even finish the array of activities. Sunday brings on cross-country ski races and opportunities to play volleyball or softball in the snow.

McCauley Mountain in Old Forge has a weekend packed with winter activity that will remind us why we love the snow. Twelve-dollar lift tickets at the mountain and a parade to celebrate the 10th Mountain Division and other military branches are reason enough to brave the cold and cheer on the troops. Spend some family time ice-skating at the outdoor Joy Tract Road rink or just relax and watch while sipping hot chocolate by the bonfire.

On Saturday, February 5, the Kiwanis Club of the Central Adirondack will sponsor their 11th Winter Sports Challenge benefiting the Old Forge Community Youth and Activity Center. These snowshoe and cross-country ski activities are held at McCauley Mountain.

Lastly, Lake George celebrates 50 years of Winter Carnival with a month packed with activities. Some weekend events such as face painting and petting zoo are reoccurring while other activities like kite flying, dog sled races and hot air balloon rides are just on specific weekends.

However you choose to celebrate winter, there are so many opportunities to get outside, meet new people and enjoy the Adirondacks.

Photo of the Saranac Lake 2011 Ice Palace content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George. 


Friday, January 28, 2011

Lake George Winter Carnival Celebrates 50th Year

By the light of a full moon, Bob Heunemann pushed a broom across the ice to prepare a track for the speed skaters who would race on Lake George the next day.
As secretary of the Lake George Chamber of Commerce, such labors might have seemed to some to lie outside his job description. But the occasion was a special one. Lake George was to host its first winter carnival in more than thirty years, and the skaters would be among the best in the country.

The spirit that animated Bob Heunemann fifty years ago continues to this day. Through years of unpredictable weather, fickle sponsors and changes in leadership, the Lake George Winter Carnival has endured and grown. Whenever it appeared as though it might be canceled for lack of interest, someone has stepped forward to give it new life.

This year, the Lake George Winter Carnival will honor all those volunteers who have helped make the carnival a success over the past fifty years.

“The volunteers know that the winter carnival brings visitors to the area at a time of year when the lights wouldn’t be on otherwise,” said Lake George Village Mayor Bob Blais. “They also know that events like the Winter Carnival draw residents from their homes and provide opportunities to work as well as have some fun together, making ours a stronger community, one more unified and better able to address the challenges ahead.”

The salute to the volunteers will take place at the Carnival’s annual dinner, to be held at the Georgian on January 28. Music will be provided by Bobby Dick and the Sundowners.

The carnival itself will kick off on Feb. 5 with celebrations in Shepard Park and a Gold Anniversary parade down Canada Street.

This year’s Winter Carnival builds upon fifty years of events.

The speed skaters whom the Chamber brought to Lake George were the International Silver Skates, Olympic contenders and team members from the U.S. and Canada. But local skaters also participated. Winners included Joanne Stafford and Nancy Earl.

Prominently featured in 1963 were Jerri Farley and Howard Bissell, a figure skating act that, according to local papers, “has won plaudits throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia, where they gave a command performance for King Saud of Saudi Arabia.”

Carnival celebrity Charlie “Papa Bear” Albert’s predecessor was a veterinarian from Westport, NY, Dr. Robert Lopez. He was the founder and sole member of the Adirondack Polar Bear Club.

Harness racing was held under the auspices of the Lake George Horse Racing Association. Jack Arehart had reintroduced the event to the area in 1960, when he sponsored races on the Hudson near his Thousand Acres resort. But Lake George had a history of harness racing that dated back to 1915. By the 1930s, the village was a capital of the sport, with purses of sufficient size to attract racers from throughout the country. Hotels and restaurants capitalized on the events, but so did homeowners, who built barns to stable the horses. Some can still recall a horse named George Washington who collapsed and died on George Washington’s birthday.

We not only had a horse racing association, we had the Adirondack Ice Yachting Association. Comprised of six Yankee and three Skeeter class boats, they raced along the lake at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour. A few of these still survive, and when the lake is sheeted in black ice, you can see them whipping across the lake.

The Polar Ice Cap Golf Tournament, so named by Albany Times-Union columnist Barney Fowler, made its debut in 1968. By its second year, when Mickey Sinto of Frontier Village defeated 150 competitors, the event was attracting national publicity. A few years later, Bill Dow drew international attention when he established a world’s record by driving a golf ball 865 yards down the lake.

In 1983, Gene Mundell designed a vehicle that could be attached to skis and propelled across the ice. That was the first outhouse race.

“The criteria was very specific; the vehicles had to be real outhouses,” recalled Nancy Nichols, whose restaurant, Mario’s, defeated Lanfear’s restaurant that year.

Over the years, new events have been created and some older ones retired.

This year’s Winter Carnival features a combination of both the old and the new. Events will be held every weekend in February in Shepard Park.

A complete schedule of Winter Carnival events is available online.

Photos: Yankee class Ice boats, speed skaters, hot rods, Bill Dow sets a record. Photos by Walt Grishkot

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror


Friday, January 21, 2011

Elkanah Watson:
Canal Promoter, County Fairs Founder, Bolton Landowner

According to the late Gardner Finley, a historian of Bolton Landing, one of the earliest landowners in town was Elkanah Watson. Watson, Finley wrote in a pamphlet commemorating the 175th anniversary of Bolton’s founding, purchased a portion of the property owned by his friend and business partner Jeremiah Van Rensselaer in 1800. He built a sawmill on Huddle Brook (which, well into the 19th century, was known as Watson’s Mill Brook) and, in fact, owned much of the land around Huddle Bay.

If Mr. Finley’s account of the early landowners is accurate, and I have no reason to doubt it, Bolton has a link with one of the most interesting men ever to have settled in the North Country. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Kirsten Ullrich at the Lake George Courthouse Gallery

Opening January 29th and running through March 4th, 2011, the Lake George Arts Project’s Courthouse Gallery will present a solo exhibition of new work by Kirsten Ullrich. There will be a reception for the artist on Saturday, January 29th, from 4 – 6 pm. This event is free and open to the public.

Kirsten Ullrich’s work as painter, sculptor and animator stems from free associations that transform images into peculiar personal meaning. She plays with illusion and abstraction to create distortions that are at once comic and exuberant, and brutal and unsettling. The result is an ambiguous mix of cartoon fun ride and journey into deep psychic tension.

She says: “My work’s trajectory is dictated by free association; images often track a chain of short-range logic from element to element but as wholes read as absurdities or impossibilities. My process of making most often begins with drawing because of its speed and immediacy. This allows me to act on mischievous impulses that emerge as a piece emerges, and the result is an idiosyncratic stew of lighthearted and sinister elements which together take on personal significance”.

Kirsten Ullrich received her M.F.A. from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, and B.F.A. from the University of Cincinnati. She has shown at Local Project, in Long Island City, New York; Michael Rosenthal Gallery, in San Francisco; Vox Populi, the Main Line Art Center, and Temple Gallery, all in Philadelphia; ArtSpace at Plant Zero in Richmond, Virginia; the Delaware Center for Contemporary Art, in Wilmington; the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, the Hudson D. Walker Gallery, and artSTRAND, all in Provincetown. Ullrich lives in Brattleboro, VT, but is currently completing her 2nd year residency fellowship at the prestigious Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. More images of Kirsten’s work can be seen at www.kirstenullrich.com.

The Courthouse Gallery hours during exhibitions are Tuesday through Friday 12 – 5 pm, Saturday 12 – 4 pm, and all other times by appointment.

The Courthouse Gallery is located at the side entrance of the Old County Courthouse, corner of Canada and Lower Amherst Streets, Lake George, NY. For more information call (518) 668-2616,e-mail mail@lakegeorgearts.org, or visit www.lakegeorgearts.org.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Lake George Park Commission Supports NYS Invasives Law

The Lake George Park Commission has approved a resolution supporting legislation drafted by the state’s Invasive Species Council that would make it illegal to transport an invasive species from one water body to another.

The proposed law would create regulations stronger than any currently in place on Lake George, said Mike White, executive director of the Lake George Park Commission. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Lake George Stewards Program Receives Some Funding

The Lake George Association (LGA) has been awarded a $25,000 grant from the Lake Champlain Basin Program for the 2011 Lake Steward program on Lake George. In previous years the LGA had received funds from New York State through the Lake George Watershed Coalition to run the aquatic invasives prevention program, but state budget cutbacks have made future funding unpredictable.

The Lake Steward Program provides invasive species education and spread prevention. Lake Stewards are trained and hired in early summer, then stationed at multiple boat launches around Lake George to educate boaters about the threats of aquatic invasive species, such as Eurasian watermilfoil, zebra mussels, curly-leaf pondweed, and most recently, the Asian clam. » Continue Reading.


Friday, January 7, 2011

50 Year Old Opera Festival Severs Links to Lake George

“Lake George is rich in musical history, having been home to Marcella Sembrich, Louise and Sidney Homer, among others, and by the late 1950s, people wanted to bring the magic back,” says Tom Lloyd, recounting the origins of the Lake George Opera.

Lloyd, the owner of Adirondack Studios, is the son of the Lake George Opera’s legendary director David Lloyd, and was himself a technical director, artistic director and acting managing director when he was still in his 20s.

Earlier this fall, Lloyd addressed a gathering of Lake George Opera supporters in Clifton Park, a kick-off to the organization’s celebrations of its 50th anniversary.

Two weeks later, the company announced that it was changing its name to Opera Saratoga, severing its links to its origins on the shores of Lake George.

“For several years, the Company has considered a name change to reflect its permanent residency in Saratoga Springs. The Company has been producing opera at the Spa Little Theater for the past fourteen seasons and considers the lovely, intimate theater to be its home. The time has come, as the Opera celebrates the accomplishments of its history, to fully embrace its home and increase the public commitment to its community and surroundings,” a statement from the company said.

Lloyd acknowledged that he has mixed feelings about the change in names, but he concluded, “the organization should probably be named for the community that embraces it, and that seems to be Saratoga. Let’s hope it will lead to increased funding.”

For those who hoped that some way would be found to bring the Lake George Opera back to Lake George, its 50th anniversary was to have been an occasion to re-affirm its historic links to the lake. Instead, it’s an occasion to reflect upon the past.

Tom Lloyd provided that retrospective in his talk to the Friends of the Lake George Opera in November.

In 1962, tenor David Lloyd was in Colorado, performing with soprano Jeanette Scovotti, both names huge in the world of opera.

“Jeanette had to leave Colorado and go back to New York, where she and her husband Fred Patrick were starting the Lake George Opera,” said Lloyd. “She said something to David, David spoke to Fred, and by the next summer David had signed on as artistic director.”

Fred Patrick, born Frederick Susselman, was a baritone who had graduated from Julliard, where he had met Scovotti.

He was also a friend of Armand McLane, a singer who was familiar with Lake George and its musical associations, who believed that there was still an audience on the lake for opera.

Patrick may also have been familiar with Donald W. Johnston, who had started the Studio of Song in 1951.

“The Studio of Song didn’t make it, but Fred Patrick saw its amphitheatre in Diamond Point, and saw its possibilities,” said Lloyd.

Legend has it that the theatre, at the corner of Rt. 9N and Coolidge Hill Road, was a building in total disrepair. Patrick rebuilt it himself on summer weekends, when he wasn’t on tour or singing in New York.

Among the new company’s first productions was an English version of “Carmen,” with a libretto by Patrick himself.

In fact, when the singer scheduled to perform the role of Escamillo fell ill, Patrick sang the role.

Reporting on the Lake George Opera’s first season, the New York Times called Patrick “a jack of all trades.”

“Mr. Patrick keeps his budget down by doing the chores himself. He feels that his company must be versatile. He plans an apprentice program, which should help out backstage,” the reporter noted.

According to Tom Lloyd, the Lake George Opera’s versatility was its defining characteristic, and made membership in the company the valuable experience it was.

“The singers didn’t just sing, they did everything, including costuming, lighting and set design,” said Lloyd. “Fred always had a handful of bus tickets, and if you weren’t willing to work, he’d hand you one and put you on a bus back to New York. He was so committed, and he expected you to be, too.”

That collective spirit informed the apprentice program envisioned by Patrick. By 1967, a young singer would be taking classes in the morning, painting sets in the afternoon, and applying her own make-up in the evening in preparation for a stage appearance. The program is now the second oldest of its kind in the country, and one of the most selective.

Equally important to the future of the company was Patrick’s vision of an American company performing operas in English.

David Lloyd and many others associated with the Lake George Opera had studied with Russian-born pianist, conductor, and stage director Boris Goldovsky at Tanglwood.

Goldovsky, explains Tom Lloyd, trained artists to be actors as well as singers.

“Like stage actors, opera singers needed motivation and characterization if they were to become good performers,” said Lloyd.

Singing in English made singers better actors, David Lloyd said in 1967.

When a singer knows that his words are understood, David Lloyd said, he works harder to make his gestures and expressions suit his language.

Fred Patrick died at the age of 37 in 1965. By then, David Lloyd was the company’s managing director. Under his tenure, the Company gave its first contemporary and American operas, Menotti’s The Telephone in 1965 and Robert Ward’s The Crucible in 1966, and four world premiere productions: David Amram’s Twelfth Night and Robert Baksa’s Aria da Capo, both in 1968, The Child by Jose Bernardo in 1974, and Alva Henderson’s The Last of the Mohicans in 1977.

In 1964, the company moved to the Queensbury High School.

“The disadvantages were that it was a high school, with all the stigma attached to that,” said Lloyd. “The advantages were that it was enormously accessible, classrooms could be used as rehearsal halls, there was plenty of parking and it had an 876 seat theater.”

Unlike today’s three week season, when two operas will be performed, Lake George Opera seasons in the 1960s extended for an entire summer and featured more than fifty performances of at least seven operas.

The Queensbury High School was meant to be a temporary home. Fred Patrick had dreamed of building a theater on Lake George, and working with officials in the administration of Governor Hugh Carey, David Lloyd nearly accomplished that feat.

“My Dad’s effort with Hugh Carey was inspired. He almost had the State ready to donate Green Island to the Opera when the Sagamore was in disarray. It would have become a real destination festival like Santa Fe if that would have happened,” said Tom Lloyd.

It has been said that the Opera’s board of directors, then dominated by Glens Falls residents, vetoed the idea on the grounds that Bolton Landing was too remote to attract an audience.

In 1998, the company moved to the Spa Little Theater in the Saratoga State Park.

This summer, the newly-renamed company will celebrate its 50th anniversary with performances of two operas staged in Diamond Point in 1962.

And that, so far as we know, will be the last of the Lake George Opera Festival.

Photos: Lake George Opera production of The Bartered Bride, 1996; Lake George Opera Festival founders Jeanette Scovotti and Fred Patrick (photo taken at Chalet Suisse, Warrensburg).

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Almanack Welcomes Naturalist Corrina Parnapy

Natural history fans will be happy to see the return of nature writing to the Almanack with the addition of our newest contributor Corrina Parnapy.

Corrina is a Lake George native who has been working and volunteering as a naturalist and an environmental research scientist for over ten years. Her love and interest in the Adirondacks led her to undergraduate degrees in Biology and Environmental Studies. Her professional focus has been on invasive species, fish and algae.

Corrina was recently invited to sit on the Lake George Land Conservancy’s Conservation and Stewardship Committee. She currently works for both the state and on a contract basis for the FUND for Lake George, while working on a forthcoming book, A Guide to the Common Algae of the Lake George Watershed.

Please join me in welcoming Corrina as the Almanack‘s 23rd regular contributor. Her columns on the environment and natural history will appear every other week.


Friday, December 31, 2010

Early Lake George Traveler’s Birch Bark Canoe Discovered

Lt. John Enys, a British officer who visited Lake George in the 1780s and whose travel journals were published by the Adirondack Museum in 1976, returned to England with an unusual souvenir: a birch bark canoe made by Native Americans.

The 250-year-old canoe not only remained stored in a barn on the family’s ancestral estate and survived; it is to be restored and ultimately returned to North America, the National Maritime Museum in Cornwall has announced

“There is a strong family story that this canoe was brought back to England by Lt. Enys,” said Captain George Hogg, an archivist at the National Maritime Museum. “Once artifacts such as this are collected by a wealthy landed family, they remain on the estate where there is plenty of space to store them and there is no pressure to dispose of them. We believe this is one of the world’s oldest Birch Bark Canoes, a unique survival from the 18th century.”

According to Hogg, the museum was contacted by a descendant of Lt. Enys, Wendy Fowler, who asked the staff to look at a canoe lying in the Estate’s barn.

“The Estate is very special to us and holds many secrets, but I believe this is the most interesting to date. I’m most grateful that my great, great, great, great, great Uncle’s travels have led to such a major chapter of boating history being discovered in Cornwall,” said Fowler.

After receiving little attention for a number of years (it may have been restored in the Victorian era, archivists say), the canoe saw daylight for the first time in decades when it was moved from its shed to its new temporary resting place at the National Maritime Museum in Cornwall.

Andy Wyke, Boat Collections Manager said, “Moving the canoe is the beginning of a whole new journey back to Canada for this incredible find.”

Lt. Enys sailed from Falmouth in a Packet Ship to join his regiment in Canada to relieve the city of Quebec, which was under siege from the Americans. He fought in the Battle of Valcour, on Lake Champlain, in 1776 and in raids against the frontiers of Vermont in 1778 and New York in 1780. Instead of returning to England in 1787, he traveled through Canada and the United States. In 1788, he sailed back to Canada, taking with him the canoe.

“It’s incredible to think its legacy has been resting in a barn in Cornwall all this time,” said Wyke.

The archivist, Captain George Hogg, said, “When we received the call from the Enys family to identify their ‘canoe in a shed’ we had no idea of the importance of the find. But we knew we had something special.”

Prior to her arrival at the Museum, the canoe was digitally recorded by the curatorial team and during the canoe’s time at the Museum, teams will be researching her history, conserving the remaining wood and preserving what’s left as well as preparing her for the trip back home and representing what she might have looked like over 250 years ago.

In September, 2011 the Native American canoe will be repatriated to Canada where the Canadian Canoe Museum will conduct further research to see where the boat may have been built and by which tribe. The canoe will be displayed in Cornwall, England from January through September.

Enys visited Lake George in 1787. According to his journals, Enys set sail for Fort George, at the head of the lake, from Ticonderoga on November 10.

He spent the night in a “House or Rather Hovel” at Sabbath Day Point, where his sleep was disturbed by hunters who were arguing about the best method of collecting honey from the hives of wild bees.

“So very insignificant was their information that altho deprived of my rest I could learn nothing by it,” he wrote.

On November 11, Enys passed through the Narrows, rowing rather than sailing. “Tho the wind was fair it was not in our power to make use of it, the Lake being here very Narrow and enclosed between two high ridges of mountains; the wind striking against them forms so many eddy winds that unless the wind is either in a direct line up or down it never blows five minutes in the same direction,” he wrote.

Near Fourteen Mile Island, the boat’s sails were hoisted and Enys sailed on to Fort George, arriving in time for dinner.
He then left for Albany and proceeded to New York, Philadelphia and Mount Vernon, where he visited George Washington.

The American Journals of Lt. John Enys, edited by Elizabeth Cometti and published by the Adirondack Museum and Syracuse University Press in 1976, is out of print but available through rare and used book dealers.

Photos: Lt John Enys; Removing the canoe from a storage shed in Cornwall, England

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