Posts Tagged ‘Lake George’

Friday, November 26, 2010

Tom Tom Shop: A Lake George Village Institution

Of all the businesses in Lake George Village, only a few have been owned and operated by the same family for fifty years or more.

That short list includes Fort William Henry, the Lake George Steamboat Company, the Stafford Funeral Home and Mario’s.

Those businesses were joined this year by the Tom Tom Shop, the Canada Street gift and souvenir shop founded in 1960 by Sam and Dorothy Frost and owned today by their son, Doug Frost.

“To have survived fifty years, that’s something to be proud of,” said Doug Frost. “Of course, I’m proud that I’ve been able to carry on a business started by my family. And I’m even more proud of what got us here. You don’t survive for fifty years without earning the trust of your customers, your vendors and the community.”

Those relationships begin with the customers, many of whom visited the shop in its early years and still return, first bringing their children and now returning with their grandchildren.

“The same families come in to shop summer after summer, generation after generation,” says Doug’s sister, Dorothy Muratori, who works in the store in the summers.

A gift shop in a resort village is unlike anything found in a suburban mall or on a city street, says Frost.

“People want something that will remind them of the experience of being on Lake George,” he said

Shopping at the Tom Tom Shop, he said, becomes a memorable experience in itself, one that draws people back.

“We’re here to make people happy,” he said.

Although the Tom Tom Shop sells a variety of gifts and souvenirs, it’s best known for its Native American jewelry, art, crafts and clothing.

“That’s part of our identity, but it’s also what appeals to people. Maybe people connect with Native American arts and crafts because it compensates them for the lack of connection with environment,” said Frost.

The Frosts’ interest in Native American arts and crafts began with Sam Frost’s mother, Loretta Frost.

She made annual trips out west to collect pottery and jewelry. In 1952, she helped Sam and Dorothy Frost start Indian Village, a Lake George attraction on Bloody Pond Road.

“Every summer, we brought entire families of Hopi, Chippewa or Sioux Indians to Lake George, where they would live until Labor Day,” said Sam Frost.

Rather than a theme park, Indian Village was an encampment that people could visit, watch ritual dances and ceremonies and listen to Native Americans discuss their history and lives, Sam Frost explains.

Indian Village burned in 1958. In 1955, the Frosts opened a souvenir shop called the Indian Trading Post on Route Nine.

Before the Northway was built, Route Nine was, of course the gateway to Lake George and the Adirondacks, and the Trading Post’s Teepee was a famous roadside attraction.

But according to Sam Frost, owners of attractions on Route 66 told him that the approaching interstate would divert most of his traffic, and he began looking for a shop in Lake George Village.

The Mayard Hotel burned in 1959, and in 1960 Lake George’s first mall opened on the site.

The Frosts leased the mall’s largest and most prominent store, the one fronting Canada Street. (Doug Frost now owns the mall and the adjacent parking lot.)

“Customers’ tastes haven’t changed that much since the store first opened,” said Sam Frost. “We used to sell a lot of Reservation jewelry, but that’s become too expensive.”

“I don’t buy what I want, but what I know my customers will want,” said Doug Frost.

“The most difficult thing in the retail business is the ability to make changes, to be able to look at something and know if it will appeal to your customers. If I know what I’m doing, it’s because I learned it from my parents,” Doug Frost said.

Frost has worked at the store from the moment he could be of use, he said.

“I grew up in the business; my father said I should learn the business from the bottom up, and I did, working in the stock room, marking merchandise, stocking the shelves. I learned every aspect of the business. Once you put every aspect together, you can run a business successfully,” he said.

Frost also learned from his father that running a business is a full-time commitment.

“Dad always said, you have to be there, in the shop, or you’ll discover you have partners you didn’t know existed,” he said.

But however committed Frost is to his business, he recognizes the value of the slower-paced off-season.

“We’re blessed,” he said. “We stay open year round, but I still have time for my family and the community. And we’re on Lake George, the most beautiful place on earth.”

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities:Diane Chase: Lake George’s Prospect Mountain

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities™
Driving to and past Lake George on Route I-87 I’ve often wondered where the footbridge crossing over the Northway leads. There are always signs or flags hanging over or people waving as we pass underneath. After being able to spend a day in Lake George, we discover the footbridge is one start to Prospect Mountain.

We’ve been told the 1.5-mile trail is steep and can be difficult. We are only wearing sneakers but decide it is worth the attempt if to only cross the footbridge. I am terrified. My children skip across as if huge trucks were not speeding beneath their feet. They gesture to the drivers to beep their horns. They finally look back, realize I am not following and come back to retrieve me.
The path is relatively steep and follows the old Incline Railway that had been used for guests to reach the once thriving Prospect Mountain Inn. The Inn was destroyed by fire, twice. Now all that remains are pictures, a partial fireplace and the cable gears.

The hiking trail follows the railway lines. No remnants remain as any usable metals were removed and repurposed during World War I. The trench that remains is rocky and wet. The slightest rain can cause a washout so we end up skirting the gully for higher ground. We cross the toll road twice before reaching the summit.

Hiking in the fall can be tricky. Fallen leaves can hide ice making for a slippery path. Be cautious. Everyone should be familiar with his/her own comfort level. I had read reports that this trail is not suitable for children of all ages. My seven and ten-year-old had no difficulties. Their only complaint was a desperate need to grill hot dogs at the summit.

For those not wishing to walk, from May – October the Prospect Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway is open for an $8 per car fee. There are three designated stops along the 5.5-mile drive to pull over and enjoy the view. Once on top picnic tables, grills and bathrooms (in season) are available.

For us, we climb to the summit arriving on a platform that used to house part of the Prospect Mountain Inn. My family does not wait for me to start exploring the various levels and sights.

A beautiful view of Lake George is to the east with Vermont visible in the distance. The Adirondack High Peaks are off toward the northwest. Some visitors say you can see New Hampshire on a clear day.

To get to Prospect Mountain from Route 9, turn west onto Montcalm Street and continue to the end. One entrance to the trail starts here. This short path has information regarding the funicular railway and other fun facts. Walk this brief path to Smith Street, turn south and walk on the street for about 200’ to a metal staircase that marks the highway overpass. There is some parking on Smith Street near the staircase. The trailhead register is on the west side of I-87.
Happy Thanksgiving!

photo and 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. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Adirondack Events and Holiday Festivals

The Adirondack Winter Season is a traditional time of celebration and fun-in-the-snow. While others are shivering and groaning about shoveling driveways, Adirondackers and their visitors are enjoying hundreds of miles of cross-country ski trails, full moon ski parties and a variety of winter festivals.

The 2010-2011 winter season is just weeks away, and towns and villages throughout the Adirondacks will soon be hanging lights, grooming ski trails and looking forward to fireworks, parades and the annual winter festivals. offers a guide to Adirondack winter events.

February 2011 marks the 50th anniversary of the Lake George Winter Carnival and this year’s month-long celebration features racer Glenn Brittian’s attempt to break the record for the fastest speed on ice in a rocket sled. The record is 253mph, and Glenn will attempt to reach a speed of 300 mph to break the record on February 20th. Every weekend in February holds a carnival highlight, including the Polar Bear Plunge where more than 800 swimmers jump into the chilly waters of Lake George, outhouse races, a historical encampment of the 1700s, cook-off competitions, a Mardi Gras parade and fireworks. Check out for a complete schedule of events.

Saranac Lake will host it’s Winter Carnival on February 4-13, 2011. Hundreds of revelers are expected to celebrate the 114th anniversary of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival. As the longest running event of its kind in the eastern U.S., visitors and residents both look forward to the annual Gala Parade on Saturday, February 12th, the Ladies’ Fry Pan Toss, ski races at Mount Pisgah and the lighting of the Ice Palace.

Additional Adirondack winter events:

Adirondack Holiday Stroll in Speculator, November 26. Holiday shopping specials and promotions.

Holiday Village Stroll in Lake Placid, December 10-12. Children’s activities, free skating, holiday movies, craft workshops, holiday performances, special promotions in stores and restaurants.

Great Adirondack Snow Dance in Speculator, December 4. Dance at dusk, dinner, fireworks, live entertainment and children’s activities.

Annual Winter Carnival in Long Lake, January 15, 2011. Sports contests with cash prizes, free ice-skating and sledding.

Frozen Fire & Lights in Inlet, February 19, 2011. Bonfire and fireworks, free sledding, ice-skating and cross-country skiing, treats and cocoa.

Winter Carnival in Raquette Lake, February 19, 2011. Ladies’ fry pan toss, men’s golf drive, tug of war, bonfire and fireworks.

Photo: “Oxygen” just before reaching 247.93 mph (to break the record at that time) at the Lake George Winter Carnival on Lake George on February 15, 1981. The event was lined with thousands of people spread along on both sides of the 2300′ long course. Photo Courtesy Venture Enterprises.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Lake George Village Board Rejects Dissolution

Established in 1903, Lake George Village will survive intact beyond December, 2013, the date it would have ceased to exist had a vote to dissolve been placed on the ballot and approved in March, 2011.

In a vote that surprised even Mayor Bob Blais, Lake George Village’s Board of Trustees decided on November 15 not to put the question to a vote in March.

“As far as the Village Board is concerned, dissolution is a dead issue,” said Blais.

Although the Village Board could revisit the proposal some time in the future, the trustees acknowledged that this was unlikely.

Too many questions about the costs to taxpayers and the future of municipal services if the Village dissolved and merged with the surrounding township remained unanswered, and answers are unlikely to be forthcoming, they said.

Village officials had hoped to develop a plan in consultation with Town officials that would explain in detail how assets and liabilities would be distributed among the residents of a new, single community, but Town officials refused to co-operate, said Blais.

In the absence of a plan explaining how assets would be treated, what special taxing districts would be formed and how debt service would be handled, one agreed to by the Town, a vote to dissolve could have been a mistake, said Blais.

“People would have had no idea what they were voting for,” he said.

Town Supervisor Frank McCoy would commit to nothing more than stating that “if dissolution occurs, the Town will work to ensure a smooth transition,” said Blais, quoting a message from McCoy.

A study of the feasibility of dissolution, drafted by a consulting firm and overseen by a local committee, indicated that if the two municipalities merged, Village residents would see their taxes decrease by 19% to 30% while town taxes would rise by as much as 40%.

“It’s clear to me that the Town doesn’t want us,” said Trustee John Earl.

Trustee John Root, who chaired the committee appointed in 2008 to study the costs and benefits of dissolution, said he had favored putting the measure to a vote until Monday’s meeting, when every Lake George resident present opposed dissolution.

“Their concerns were understandable,” said Root. “I’m glad we’ve held public hearings; the residents have spoken loudly and clearly that they do not favor dissolution.”

Some residents, like Micky Onofrietto, Barbara Neubauer, and Doug Frost, for example, said that an uninformed vote would be detrimental to the interests of the residents themselves.

“I feel uncomfortable putting it to a vote, without people looking into it as I did, when I found that we had no way of knowing the true costs,” said Micky Onofrietto.

“I might save on taxes but lose on services,” said Barbara Neubauer.

Former Village Trustee and Tom Tom Shop owner Doug Frost said that as a businessman, he feared losing the benefit of the Village’s expertise in promoting special events and weekly attractions like fireworks shows that draw tourists to Lake George.

Town residents Joe Stanek, Karen Azer and Mike Sejuljic emphasized the differences in priorities and styles of governance between the Town and the Village.

“A 28% tax increase, borrowing to meet payroll, paying its bills late; the town should get its own affairs in order before incorporating another government,” said Azer.

After listening to public comments, Mayor Blais said that while dissolution was appropriate for some villages, Lake George Village remained a viable entity.

“In most cases, villages’ assets are not as large as ours, they’re barely surviving financially, they have small populations and they can’t find people to serve in elected or appointed offices,” said Blais.

Trustee Ray Perry introduced the motion to take no action on dissolution. It passed unanimously.

Photo: Aerial view of Lake George from the Lake George Mirror photo files.

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

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities:Lake George is taking the Special Olympic Plunge

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities

Swimming in the heat of the summer can be a chilly affair in the Adirondacks. For the next few months, people across New York State will be cooling off by taking an icy plunge in support of Special Olympic athletes.

“Last weekend our first Polar Plunge in Plattsburgh was met with great success.” says New York Special Olympics Associate Director Kaila Horton. “ Between 200-220 people plunged raising over $22,600 dollars in support of the athletes. The Polar Plunge is one of our big fundraisers of the year for Special Olympics.”

Horton says that the cost of training and participating in the Special Olympics each year runs about $400 per athlete. All the coaches are volunteers and work through local Special Olympic Training Clubs, which allows other athletes and students to get involved on a local level. Horton wants to make sure that everyone knows that if there isn’t a local training club, the headquarters will help start one and recruit volunteers and local athletes.

The format for taking a plunge for Special Olympics is easy. Each individual is asked to set a fundraising goal. The suggestion is the $400 cost to send one athlete to the Special Olympics. Sometimes teams are formed but it’s individuals that raise money to enable the athlete for the upcoming games.

The Polar Plunge on the schedule is this weekend in Lake George. For the fourth year Lake George is “Freezin’ for a Reason” November 20th at Shepard’s Cove. Registration starts at 9:00 a.m. with a noon start time to an icy dip into Lake George.

“This is the first time that I’ll be taking the plunge. We have a large team of about 25 people,” says Max’s Buddies Team Leader Lisa Jackoski. “We have a whole mish-mash of people ranging from the Lake George School Superintendent to my mother. There are even people I’ve never met that are on our team, friends of friends that said they would do it. I am astounded by how many people are willing to participate in this.”

Jackoski is not only team leader, but also mother to fifteen-year-old, Special Olympian Max Jackoski. She has a personal understanding of the importance participation has on these athletes. Max took part in the Track and Field event in Queensbury last year and now plans on branching out into either skiing or swimming.

Last year students and teachers from his school made Max a huge banner that read ‘LG [Lake George] Loves Max.’ When he arrived for his event the sign was hung on the fence for all to see.

“I think most people are unaware of how much the Special Olympics costs,” says Jackoski. “Surprisingly there are still people that don’t know the Special Olympics exist and that it is free for the athletes. I saw Max’s friendships blossom through being part of this program. I saw his self-confidence grow due to the Special Olympics.”

Max finished his event last year and asked if he won. “I was able to tell him yes,” says Jackoski. “The Special Olympics really embraces that philosophy that everyone is a winner. Before each event they say their motto, Let me win but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

She is already looking for ways to grow her group for next year. The Max’s Buddies Team has surpassed this year’s fundraising goals with $2,000 so far raised.

For those not willing to risk the chilly Adirondack waters of Lake George, spectators are encouraged for the Lake George Polar Plunge.

The Special Olympics Polar Plunge logo was used with permission

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, November 12, 2010

Bolton Adjusts to New Dog Licensing Duties

For more than ninety years, the state’s Department of Agriculture has been the agency responsible for licensing dogs and collecting fees, which it shared with counties and municipalities.

But as of January first, those duties will devolve to localities, and towns like Bolton are hustling to adjust to their new responsibilities.

According to Agriculture commissioner Patrick Hooker, the department has provided municipalities with a “Municipal Dog Licensing Toolkit,” which includes a model local law, sample licensing forms, lists of vendors for databases and dog tags, a copy of the new law, and documents outlining how the new law will affect dog owners, animal shelters and the Animal Population Control Fund.

In exchange for assuming responsibility for licensing dogs, municipalities will keep all fees collected, which “will nearly double their revenue from dog license fees,” said Commissioner Hooker.

“Administering the new system, including certifying that dogs have received rabies shots, will be time consuming, and it was helpful when the state was responsible, but we’ll adjust,” said Bolton Town Clerk Pat Steele.

While Bolton has had a dog ordinance on the books since 1978, its town board is now considering adopting a new law, one drafted by its attorney, Mike Muller, but based on the model supplied by New York State.

At a public hearing in November, resident Robert Weisenfeld commented that the clause requiring owners to exercise “full control” over their animals was too vague; he urged the board to revise the text to specify that dogs be leashed or muzzled.

Under the proposed law, the fee for licensing a dog will range from $5 to $13, depending upon whether the dog has been spayed or neutered.

Bolton residents will receive new dog tags from the town when current licenses expire, said Steele.

Fines for allowing dogs to become nuisances range could range from $50 to $300.

According to Commissioner Hooker, delegating dog licensing responsibilities to localities will save the state more than $325,000 a year.

“At a time when government is actively searching for cost savings and limiting services to those that protect public health and safety, it is a no-brainer for the State to get out of the dog licensing business,” Hooker said.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

New Local History: Empires in the Mountains

Meeting Russell Bellico, as I did briefly several years ago, you’d think you were in the presence of an old sea captain spending his retirement in the softer wind and spray of Lake George. You’d be surprised to know that he spent 35 years in the economics department at Westfield State College in Massachusetts.

You’d be glad to hear that Bellico spent his time away from Westfield at Lake George, where as a summer resident he invested himself in local history. He has spent over three decades photographing shipwrecks and historic sites on Lake George and Lake Champlain. He has served as a consultant on the National Park Service’s Champlain Valley Heritage Corridor, a trustee of the Lake George Battlefield Park Alliance, and a board member of Bateaux Below, the organization founded by the archaeological team (which included Bellico) that documented the 1758 radeau Land Tortoise which lies underwater at the southern end of Lake George.

Bellico is the author of a score or more articles and five books on the maritime and military history of Lake George and Lake Champlain. His first two projects were Chronicles of Lake George (1995) and Chronicles of Lake Champlain (1999). Both were aptly subtitled Journeys in War and Peace, as they were mostly drawn from primary sources by diaries, journals, and other early first hand accounts. His interest in boots on the ground history has no doubt contributed to some of Bellico’s most unique contributions to the region’s history – his careful looks at what remains. For example, Bellico weaves together histories of not just the events (through archaeology, primary sources, and first hand accounts) but of what remains of those events on the landscape. His third major effort, Sails and Steam in the Mountains: A Maritime and Military History of Lake George and Lake Champlain, earned a place as the go-to resource on the region’s maritime history.

Bellico’s latest effort, Empires in the Mountains: French and Indian War Campaigns and Forts in the Lake Champlain, Lake George, and Hudson River Corridor, is the fruit of three decades of the author’s work to understand the military and maritime importance of the region. His first volume to focus entirely on the campaigns and forts of the Great Warpath during the French & Indian War (1754-1763), Empires in the Mountains covers the epic battles of the war in the lake valleys, as well as the building of the fortresses and battleships in Northern New York’s wilderness.

And true to his authoritative and thorough style, Bellico explores this history with one eye toward what happened after those great events of 350 years ago. Bellico reviews the history of the abandonment, the excavations, and the exploitation of French and Indian War sites from Bloody Pond (which Bellico seems to suggest may in fact be correctly marked on Route 9 south of Lake George) and Fort Gage (bulldozed by a local developer avoiding APA oversight) to the more popular spots like Fort Ticonderoga, Fort Edward, Fort William Henry, and Fort George.

It’s that concluding epilogue, “Forts Revisited” that is perhaps the most valuable chapter of the book for local historians, and those interested in how we remember, and exploit, local history. For that chapter alone, this book belongs on the shelf of those interested in local history, regardless of your particular interest in the French and Indian War.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

Friday, November 5, 2010

New Stream Studies Confirm Lake Groups’ Warnings

New studies by the U.S. Geological Survey confirm arguments that Lake George conservation organizations and agencies have made for years: development threatens the aquatic life of streams.

“We learned that there is no ‘safe zone,’ meaning that even minimal or early stages of development can negatively affect aquatic life in urban streams,” said Tom Cuffney, a USGS biologist.

“When the area of driveways, parking lots, streets and other impervious cover reaches 10 percent of a watershed area, many types of pollution-sensitive aquatic insects decline by as much as one third, compared to streams in undeveloped forested watersheds,” said Cuffney.

Native fish also decline in streams even at low levels of development, levels historically considered safe for stream life, the studies found.

“The studies validate the findings of our Lake George Stream Assessment Project, initiated three years ago by Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky, namely, that land uses impact the health of our streams,” said Peter Bauer, the executive director of the Fund for Lake George.

“We know from the sites we sampled that streams decline in water quality as they pass through areas that are more heavily developed,” said Bauer.

“These studies show that we need to be careful,” said Emily DeBolt of the Lake George Association, which operates a stream biology monitoring program for volunteers.

While even the most developed watersheds within the Lake George basin are not yet urbanized, protection of existing stream corridors should be a priority, said Bauer and DeBolt.

According to the USGS, the studies examined the effects of urbanization on algae, aquatic insects, fish, habitat and chemistry in urban streams in nine areas across the country.

“As a watershed becomes developed, the amount of pavement, sidewalks and other types of urban land cover increases. During storms, water is rapidly transported over these urban surfaces to streams. The rapid rise and fall of stream flow and changes in temperature can be detrimental to fish and aquatic insects. Stormwater from urban development can also contain fertilizers and insecticides used along roads and on lawns, parks and golf courses,” the USGS said.

The Lake George Park Commission is authorized by New York State law to protect stream corridors within the Lake George watershed, said Mike White, executive director of the Lake George Park Commission.

The Commission has drafted regulations that will limit construction and the cutting of trees and vegetation within 35 feet of a tributary of Lake George.

The regulations are currently under review by the Governor’s Office of Regulatory Reform. Once that office approves the draft, a series of public hearings will be held, said White.

“Stream buffers are the most efficient way to protect the water quality and ecology of streams, and regulations are the only effective way of preserving those buffers,” said Peter Bauer.

“Once a buffer is disturbed, it’s very difficult to restore it to its original function,” Bauer said.

Investing in stream corridor protection is also an investment in the water quality of Lake George, he said.

“One half of all the water entering Lake George comes from streams,” said Bauer. “The fate of Lake George is tied inextricably to the health of its streams.”

Photo: Lake George Stream Assessment monitors, 2008.

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

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The National Adirondack Debate of 1932

It is fitting that the Lake George Land Conservancy has created a John Apperson Society of friends and donors. Through his work for a wilder Lake George and Forest Preserve throughout the Adirondacks in the first half of the 1900s, Apperson, the General Electric engineer, gave heart, body and soul to healing what he considered the ills of industrialized, over-engineered society – to the extent that Apperson acknowledged that Lake George was his wife, and the Lake’s islands were his children. » Continue Reading.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Lake George Land Conservancy Honors John Apperson

The Lake George Land Conservancy has elected to celebrate the memory of John Apperson by naming a society in his honor.

“The John Apperson Society recognizes Apperson’s significant contributions to the preservation of Lake George and honors those who have followed in his footsteps,” said Nancy Williams, the Conservancy’s executive director. » Continue Reading.

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