Posts Tagged ‘Saranac Lake’

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Saranac Lake Winter Carnival: Art. Play. Love.

The members of the Adirondack Artists Guild at 52 Main Street, Saranac Lake, and other artists who submitted work for a carnival-themed exhibit invite everybody to an opening reception 5–7 p.m. Friday February 12.

In the meantime Saranac Lake Winter Carnival rolls on all week, with music and sporting events, and the ice palace is open to visitors; you can see a schedule here.

But Friday is when things really get going. After the art show, head across the street to the Harrietstown Hall for the 7:30 p.m. Rotary Club Variety Show (you’re advised to buy tickets in advance; it’s a popular event), a truly entertaining display of small town talent and humor. It will be a feat if the carnival court tops last year’s dance routine. Then you can re-cross Main Street to catch Jatoba and Hot Day at the Zoo at the Waterhole (Almanack music contributor Shamim Allen will have details on the music at 3 p.m. Thursday).

Saturday the 13th is the big day, with a pancake breakfast, rugby in the snow, chili lunch at the town hall, a Paul Smith’s College woodsmanship exhibition, the library book sale, a high-school band concert, etc. The highlight, as always, is the parade, at 1 p.m. It will be televised on local cable Channel 2 if you can’t make it downtown.

Carnival ends on Sunday, Valentine’s Day, with x-c ski races, volleyball, softball, a baroque concert, a kiddie parade, bloody Marys. Every year photographer Mark Kurtz compiles hundreds of photographs he has taken during the week into a closing-night slide show at the ice palace, and a crowd gathers to see if their faces get on the screen. This year the slide show will be at 7:30 p.m., followed by closing fireworks over the palace at 8 p.m. If you’d like a preview, selected photographs are online, here.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Adirondack Music Scene:Winter Carnival, Jam Bands and Orchestras

The first of two very exciting weeks of music starts this Friday in Saranac Lake where Winter Carnival is going to be on in full glory. There will be bands and concerts in town every day or night for the whole two weeks, awe-inspiring!

Other events to check out include a new Open Mic and Hoot, a variety of classical music concerts and local folk musicians.

Thursday, February 4th:

In Canton, there is an Open Mic at the Blackbird Cafe. Sign up is at 6:30, performances start at 7 pm. Writers,readers and musicians of all kinds are encouraged. the winners will be selected for a CD to be released later this year.

Friday, February 5th:

In Wilmington, Eat, Sleep, Funk is playing at Steinhoff’s.

In Ausable Forks, Lucid is at 20 Main.

In Saranac Lake, the Friday Night Dewey Ski Jam is held from 6:30 – 9:30 pm. This Friday Russ Cook and Bard Hurlburt are the musical guests and Nori’s Village Market provides the food. Donations are welcomed.

In Saranac Lake, The Waterhole presents their first in a long series of free Winter Carnival shows. Mecca Bodega kicks it off at 10 pm. These guys are preceeded by a 9 pm cocktail hour.

In Saranac Lake, Roadkill Dog is at Captain Cook’s from 9 pm – 2 am.

In Canton, A first friday Music Jam is being held from 7 – 8:30 pm at the TAUNY Gallery.

Also in Canton, a Hootenanny will be held from 7 – 11:00 pm at the Blackbird Cafe. A variety of local musicians will be passing the hat.

Saturday, February 6th:

In Saranac Lake , the second night of free Winter Carnival shows at The Waterhole gives us the Rev Tor band. Again this band is preceeded by a 9 pm cocktail hour and gets going around 10 pm.

Also in Saranac Lake, Reflections starts at 8 pm at Captain Cook’s.

In St. Regis Falls, Roy Hurd will be performing at 1 pm. It’s going to be held at The St. Regis Falls Fire Station as part of a Winter Fest celebration.

In Potsdam, The Met Live in HD. At the Roxy Theater “Simon Boccanegra” will be feeding from 1 – 4:30 pm

In Elizabethtown, Piano By Nature recital is happening between 7 – 8:30 pm at The Hand House. Soloist Jill Dawe will play works by Chopin, Debussy Ginestera and Part. Reservations are strongly encouraged.

In Tupper Lake at The Wild Center, “Pleasures of the Courts” dinner and dance will be held from 7:30 – 9 pm. The Orchestra of Northern New York will be giving their annual Baroque concert. Tickets are available at the box office.

In Plattsburgh at the Monopole , Capital Zen starting at 9 pm.

Sunday, February 7th:

In Glens Falls, the Lake George Chamber Orchestra will give a concert at The Hyde Collection Art Museum. The concert is form 2 – 4 pm. Call for reservations.

In Elizabethtown, Piano By Nature recital will be held at The Hand House from 3 – 4:30 pm. Soloist Jill Dawe will play works by Chopin, Debussy Ginestera and Part. Reservations are strongly encouraged.

In Potsdam, “Pleasures of the Courts” dinner and dance will be held from 3 – 5 pm. The Orchestra of Northern New York will be giving their annual Baroque concert. It will be held at St. Mary’s Church.

In Saranac Lake, Jamie Notarthomas plays at 3 pm at The Waterhole.

In Saranac Lake, Sarah Bargman will be performing at Will Rogers from 7:30 – 8:30 pm.

Monday, February 8th:

In Saranac lake, Sven Curth gives a free performance at The Waterhole. The show starts around 9 pm.

Tuesday, February 9th:

In Saranac Lake, Joey Driscoll plays a free show at The Waterhole. He starts at 8 pm.

Wednesday, February 10th:

In North Creek, Vinnie Leddick is at barVino. He’s playing from 7 – 9 pm.

In Saranac Lake, E.O.E. live at The Waterhole. Mardi Gras celebration! This band is from New Orleans. Show starts at 10 pm.

Photo: Mecca Bodega


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ski Barbecue and Olympic Send-off Sunday

This Sunday Saranac Lakers and their neighbors will gather at Mount Pisgah to celebrate winter carnival, eat barbecue and wish their four local Olympians well. Also, the village-run alpine ski area will host a freestyle skiing and snowboard competition, its first ever.

The BBQ will be held 11:30-2:30 at the Mount Pisgah lodge. The families of Olympians will be special guests. At 1 p.m. photographer Mark Kurtz will take a group photo from a bucket truck, and the gathering will be videotaped and put on YouTube so that local Olympians Billy Demong (Nordic combined), Tim Burke (biathlon), Chris Mazdzer (luge) and Peter Frenette (ski jumping) can see their proud hometown cheering them on.

Everyone is invited. There’s a charge for the barbecue but the Olympic rally is free. People are welcome to bring signs and banners. The vets’ club will provide flags. Organizers are hoping to have more than 250 people in the photograph. There will be an opportunity to send recorded messages to the athletes as well. 

Events begin at 10 a.m. with the annual White Stag Race, one of the oldest continually run ski races in the East, begun in the mid 1940s. The big-air freestyle exhibition will be held throughout the day on the Terrain Park. 

Pisgah is one of the Adirondacks’ awesome little ski areas (here’s a list of the others, including the bigs), and there is a lot of excitement on the mountain this year, not just because of the Olympians. Friends of Mt. Pisgah, a grassroots group, is trying to raise $400,000 to replace the T-bar lift, the tubing area is better than ever, and the terrain park and night-lighting have undergone big improvements.

The 113th Saranac Lake Winter Carnival kicks off Friday night at the Harrietstown Hall with coronation, when the nuclear secret of who will reign as this year’s king and queen is unlocked. Events continue until Sunday February 14.

Photo: Why Saranac Lake skiers are so good. Courtesy of Mark Kurtz Photography


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Memories Submissions Sought

Hungry Bear Publishing is seeking essays and photos for an upcoming book of favorite memories of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival, Publisher Andy Flynn told the the weekly Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Committee meeting January 20th. Titled “Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Memories,” the project will help raise fund for the Committee.

“This will be a book by the community, for the community,” Flynn, who will collect the submissions and be the editor of the project, said in a press release to the Almanack. “Since the Winter Carnival is the most community-oriented festival I’ve ever seen, this book must reflect the heart and soul of Saranac Lake. It needs to be written by the community.”

Here is the rest of Flynn’s announcement:

“Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Memories” will be a memory book, not a complete history of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival, which traces its roots to a small festival in 1897 during the tuberculosis-curing days. The Pontiac Club organized and hosted the event during the early years. The Ice Palace , a long-held Winter Carnival tradition, was first built for the 1898 Carnival, when hundreds of visitors traveled to Saranac Lake for the festivities by train.

“The Committee was very excited to learn of Andy’s plans,” said Jeff Dickson, Chairman of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Committee. “Winter Carnival is all about the creation of memories and everyone who has ever attended has some. Unfortunately, most of them get lost with the passage of time. This book’s value to us as a fundraiser is wonderful, and the personal history that it will present is even more exciting.”

Every good story has a theme. Residents are asked to pick one memorable moment from a past Saranac Lake Winter Carnival, good or bad, and explain why it was so memorable. Give details, give names. Describe the scene. How did it affect you or others? Were you a king or queen? If you choose to write about a Winter Carnival artifact, explain where you got it or how it was used and submit a photo.

“If you ever wanted to have your essay or photo published in a book, this is your chance,” Flynn said. “In return for the community’s donation of memories, we will donate 10 percent of the book’s proceeds to the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Committee to help ensure that this annual event stays around for a very long time.”

People may submit essays of no longer than 450 words and/or a maximum of two photographs. Poems and illustrations are also accepted. The inside pages will be black and white. Entry/permission forms and Rules & Directions are available as PDF downloads at www.HungryBearPublishing.com or by contacting Andy Flynn at 40 McClelland St. , Saranac Lake , NY 12983, (518) 891-5559, or email at adkattic@yahoo.com. Entry/permission forms must be filled out and sent via snail mail to Hungry Bear Publishing, while essays and photos must be sent via email. Specifications are listed on the Rules & Direction form.

“Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Memories” will be released in the fall of 2010, just in time for the Christmas shopping season. The deadline for submissions is April 30, 2010.

Cover photos for the book were provided by Mark Kurtz Photography, of Saranac Lake . Mark Kurtz is the official photographer for the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival. One photo shows the fireworks display over the 2008 Ice Palace , and the other photo shows one of the famous Lawn Chair Ladies, Saranac Laker Sue Grimm, in action during the 2009 Gala Parade.

Based in Saranac Lake, Hungry Bear Publishing produces community-based publications and programs promoting the heritage and towns of the Adirondack region. In 2008, the company was awarded a Certificate of Commendation from the Upstate History Alliance for the Adirondack Attic History Project, which Andy Flynn founded in 2003 to actively preserve Adirondack history by collecting artifact-based, human-interest stories. Those stories have been compiled into the five-part “Adirondack Attic” book series. Hungry Bear Publishing also produces the Meet the Town community guide series and most recently published the re-print version of “Mostly Spruce and Hemlock,” the classic history of Tupper Lake by Louis Simmons, a project that was a fundraiser for the Goff-Nelson Memorial Library.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Adirondacks Well Represented at Vancouver Olympics

Yesterday Andrew Weibrecht became the latest of a pack of Adirondackers named to the U.S. Olympic Team. It was really just a formality. Of course Andrew would make the alpine ski squad. He’s fearless, he’s dedicated and he’s got no brakes.

It’s still huge to see his name on the list. He’s a great guy and makes us proud. It’s hard to explain why people who have nothing to do with these kids’ success can feel that way, but in a small town you just do. Six athletes who have grown up in Lake Placid and Saranac Lake are going to the 2010 games in Vancouver, and so are three who moved here at a young age, as are some luge veterans who’ve lived in Lake Placid so long it’s home.

In a region of .00004 percent of the national population that is sending 4 percent of our Olympic team, the degrees of separation are considerably foreshortened. These inspiring young men and women are neighbors and friends. Or we know their moms or dads, or see them skiing at Avalanche Lake, or listen to them play mandolin in the bandshell. We may have taught them history, drank their homemade cider or been next door when one of them (whom we will call “War Horse”) broke his leg in some sort of homemade man-size slingshot.

We thought Andrew would be the last of the Adirondack contenders to be named, but 16-year-old Ashley Caldwell also made the Olympic cut yesterday; she will compete in aerials for the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team. She moved to Lake Placid three years ago to pursue her sport, and we’ll cheer just as loudly for her.

Even athletes who train or compete in Lake Placid gain a local following. My friend’s daughter will be rooting for the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team, several of whose members coached her at hockey camp last summer. The ladies also have fans at Lisa G’s.

Saranac Lake is sometimes obscured by Lake Placid’s 1932 and 1980 Olympian shadow, but it too has been known to send bobsledders, skaters, skiers and hockey players to world competition. This year four Saranac Lakers are heading to the winter Olympics: 21-year-old luger Chris Mazdzer, 17-year-old ski jumper Peter Frenette, 27-year-old Tim Burke of Paul Smiths (Biathlon) and 29-year-old Billy Demong of Vermontville (Nordic Combined). Tupper Lake also takes pride in Peter Frenette, who has many relatives there and who debuted on skis at age 2 at Big Tupper. We in Saranac Lake claim kinship with Billy and Tim because they attended and skied for Saranac Lake High School, plus they got early lessons here, at Dewey Mountain Recreation Area.

I love the fact that luger Mark Grimette is 39 and his silver-medal doubles partner Brian Martin is 36 and they still have wheels (wrong metaphor, but they are serious competitors). Vancouver will be their fourth Olympics.

My other favorite Olympic friendship story is that of Lowell Bailey of Lake Placid (Biathlon) and Tim and Billy (pictured). These three have skied together since they were little, and the love of their sport has taken them around the world. Haley Johnson of Lake Placid (Biathlon) joined that pack when she began traveling with Lowell and Tim in high school.

Kris Cheney Seymour runs the Dewey Mountain Youth Ski League in Saranac Lake and is a top-notch skier and coach. He grew up in Saranac Lake and has long known Billy, Tim, Lowell and Haley as a coach and friend. He is one of many coaches, mentors and sports-support staff around here who have a greater claim on community pride. When people joke that Dewey should be called “the Other Olympic Mountain” for its early role in so many good skiers’ lives, Kris says there’s something to it. Once, after a particularly steep hill on the World Cup circuit in Europe, Tim e-mailed Kris and commented that Dewey prepared him well.

We might take it for granted that so many kids here skate, ski and slide. But as Kris often points out, these sports can change lives. Not only are they fun, apparently they can take you places. Even if they don’t take you to the Olympics, plenty of locals have gone to college on their sport and competed against some of the best athletes in the world.

So, go Andrew! Go Billy, Lowell, Tim, Haley, Peter, Chris, Ashley, Mark, Brian, Bengt Walden (luge), John Napier (bobsled) and Erin Hamlin (luge)! And you too, speed skater Trevor Marsicano of Ballston Spa and Plattsburgh native Anders Johnson, who trained at Lake Placid’s speedskating and ski jumping facilities! And go U.S. women’s hockey team! Have a great time in Vancouver.

Photograph of (l to r) Lowell Bailey, Billy Demong and Tim Burke as young skiers, courtesy of the Demong family


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Governor’s Budget Targets Aid to Adirondack Municipalities (Updated)

The state budget presented by Governor Paterson on Tuesday would cut 5% from New York’s Aid and Incentives for Municipalities (AIM) program to Adirondack towns and villages. Since 2005, money from AIM has been used by local governments across the state for a range of purposes including programs to consolidate government services.

Municipalities lying either wholly or partially within the Adirondack Park stand to lose a combined $123,371. Tupper Lake tops the list of communities hardest hit by cuts to AIM with combined revenue losses to village and town of $9,341.

The Town of Newcomb—where the APA’s Visitor Interpretive Center is at risk, along with snowmobile trail links that depend on transfer of former Finch Pruyn land to the state—would suffer an excision of $9,149 in AIM revenues.

Communities that have recently moved to consolidate services are also among the hardest hit by the proposed AIM cuts: Harrietstown/Saranac Lake would lose $5,826; Moriah/Port Henry, $4,033; and North Elba/Lake Placid, $3,039. Long Lake completes the list of towns with the most to lose with a potential cut of $5,451. UPDATE: The town and village of Dannemora combined stand to lose $6,530 as well.

The Almanack compiled the following full list of AIM cuts to Adirondack localities (click to enlarge):


Monday, January 18, 2010

Famous Jerks of the Adirondacks

Today we were going to list the Ten Most Influential Adirondackers, based on input from you, the Almanack readers. We’ve decided to keep nominations open for one more week (please make your recommendations here). In the meantime, one of you suggested, “How about the Adirondacks’ ten biggest asshats? . . . [T]hat’s one discussion I’d like to read.” So, click through for a list of ten all-star Adirondack jerks and a-hats, in no particular order.

1. Nelson Rockefeller (1908-1979): No, not for establishing the Adirondack Park Agency but for the excessive drug laws he instituted as governor. They created an unsustainable dependency in the Adirondack prison economy, which is now contracting. Can’t blame David Paterson for this one.

2. General James Abercromby (1706-1781), British commander-in-chief in the French and Indian War. His 1758 attack on the French near Fort Carillon (now Ticonderoga) was a fiasco. His troops outnumbered Montcalm’s 15,000 to 4,000, but Abercromby “led” from the rear, sending six waves of 2,000 men without cannon support to die on a tangle of sharpened trees the French felled as a barricade. Brigadier General George Augustus Viscount Howe—unlike Abercromby loved by the troops—was killed in a skirmish en route to the battle. “The death of one man was the ruin of fifteen thousand,” a historian later wrote.

3. Bass, or more accurately the conservation officials and fishermen who introduced smallmouths, largemouths and other nonnative game species to brook-trout waters: Despite mostly good intentions, this has done more than acid rain to turn Adirondack lakes into fish zoos. Smallmouths continue to expand their range (anyone stocking bass today should know better) and appear poised to inherit the freshwater.

4. Father Isaac Jogues (1607-1646): The man was an actual saint. But he also could not take a hint. He was the first European to see the Adirondack interior, dragged there in 1642 as a prisoner of the Mohawks. In his memoir Jogues admits to getting on the Indians’ nerves and being repeatedly reminded to stop calling their spirits demons. He is tortured, his fingertips are bitten off. The Jesuit missionary escapes and returns to France. Still, he thinks, They need me. He returns four years later, and the Mohawks club him to death.

5. Robert Moses (1888-1981). This guy. I heard he wanted to build a highway through Indian Pass. (Let me help those of you shining a light on lazy journalism: here’s some. I absolutely can’t remember where I heard this.) The then-state parks chief makes the list anyway for saying in 1961 that the Forest Preserve should be opened to any highway construction and that a wilderness designation for state lands would benefit only “imitation Indians and amateur mountaineers.” Plus he was a booster of the dumb Rooftop Highway.

6. Magua: James Fenimore Cooper’s two-faced Huron is fictional but still the scariest villain ever to slip silently through the Adirondack woods. Don’t let Magua take you on a hike.

7. Ned Buntline (1813-1886): poser, dime novelist, dog-killer. He shot Alvah Dunning’s dog as it stood between the Raquette Lake guide’s legs. The Elizabethtown Post wrote, “During ‘Ned Buntline’s’ brief sad and checkered career in the Adirondacks he made some friends and a good many enemies. He was a man of rough exterior and spasmodic changes. A man of education and training, one who had associated with those in the highest walks of life, he also associated with those whose only creed—total depravity—kept them down on the lowest possible level.” Did that mean he was a pedophile?

8. Orrando P. Dexter (d. 1903), a case study in how not to make friends: buy up 7,000 acres where locals like to hunt, post the land and treat your new neighbors like peasants. The identity of the New York City millionaire’s assassin has been a Santa Clara secret for 107 years.

9. Samuel de Champlain (1567-1635): Scholars believe that the French explorer was a misunderstood peace-seeker, but as the first white man to see the Adirondacks and then to unload his arquebus on the natives within minutes [correction: a day] of meeting them, de Champlain set a hostile tone.

10. Fred G. Sullivan (1945-1996): briefly a mentor and always a hero to me, Adirondack Fred was a very funny guy, best remembered for writing, directing and starring in the self-deprecating 1987 movie The Beer Drinker’s Guide to Fitness and Filmmaking. At his memorial service, Fred’s lifelong friend eulogized (paraphrasing): “Fred liked to say there are two kinds of a**holes in the world: those who know they are and those who don’t. Fred was an a**hole.”

Illustration: General James Abercromby


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Adirondack Music Scene: Electric Blues, Jazz and Acoustic Folk

Every now and then a person from our parts makes a splash. Phil Henry is one of those people. His enthusiastic approach to life and music is catchy. Getting to enjoy his performance in a small venue is a treat. I trust it will be a great show to check out on Friday or Saturday night.

Thursday, January 14th:

In Tupper Lake, Chaz DePaolo is performing at p2’s. Chaz is an electric blues guitarist and will performing songs from his latest CD, Bluestopia. The show starts at 8 pm.

Friday, January 15th:

In Tupper Lake, The Phil Henry Band is at p2’s. The show starts at 9 pm.
Phil, a Saranac Lake native, has another local, Brendon Coyle, playing drums with him with Tupper Laker, Wayne Davidson on sax and Vermont bassist, Jim Gilmour. He will be debuting his new album as well.

In Saranac Lake, Professor Chaos CD Release party will be happening at The Waterhole. I saw the phrase “four piece from hell” on their website, I don’t think more needs to be said.

In Lake Placid, Martha Gallagher, “The Adirodack Harper” will be at LPCA. This is her fourth annual concert starting at 8 pm and tickets are $15.

In Ausable Forks, Chaz DePaolo will be entertaining at 9:30 pm at 20 Main.

Saturday, January 16th:

In Saranac Lake, Phil Henry is having his CD release party at BluSeed Studios. The party starts at 7:30 pm.

In North Creek, Dan Melon will be at Laura’s Tavern. Show starts at 8 pm.

In Lake Placid, Chaz DePaolo will be playing at Station Street. The show starts at 8:30 pm.

In Tupper Lake, Broken Ear will perform. The show is at the Park Restaurant and starts at 8 pm.

Wednesday, January 20th:

In North Creek, the Tony Jenkins Jazz Trip will be at barVino. The show starts at 7 pm.

Photo: Phil Henry


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Adirondack Music Scene: Blues, Rock and Folk Duos

There are a lot of great musical acts to choose from this weekend in a variety of locales. I’ll be doing the Dewey Mountain Ski Jam because it’s such fun to ski in the dark and then be all cozy in their small lodge. Plus listening to one of my all-time favorite musicians Steve Langdon is almost enough to keep me from skiing. He sings and plays with such power and conviction, if I’m feelin’ blue his gigs always bring me up.

Friday, January 8th:

In Saranac Lake, Steve Langdon is performing at The Dewey Ski Lodge from 6:30 to 9:30 pm. This is part of the Friday Night Ski Jam and this one features food donated by Eat n Meet.

In Plattsburgh at Gilligan’s Getaway there will be a “Tribute to Simon and Garfunkel” concert. Show starts at 8 pm, ticket’s are $18 in advance and $20 at the door. Call (518) 637 – 4989 for more information. You can also catch this show in Saranac Lake at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Will Rogers.

In Jay at The Amos and Julia Ward Theatre there will be a JEMS Coffee House featuring Stoneground Express. This trio features Larry Stone throwing some jazz into his accomplished country and blues repertoire.

In Saratoga the band Bearfoot will be performing at Cafe Lena.
I’ve checked out some their material on line and it sounds very very good. They hail from Anchorage Alaska. I wish they were touring closer to my home base.

Saturday, January 9th:

In Saranac Lake, The Stoneman Blues Band will be at The Waterhole. The show starts somewhere between 9:30 and 10pm

In Willington, Lucid will be performing at Steinhoff’s. Love these guys – they start at 10 pm.

In Potsdam, Der Rosenkaalier the Strauss opera performed live at the Met will be shown between 1 and 5:45 pm at the Roxy Theatre. Ticket prices vary so check the website.

In Saranac Lake a “Tribute to Simon and Garfunkel” concert will be given at Will Rogers. Show starts at 7:30 pm, tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Call (518) 637-4989 for more information.

In Lowville, Aztec Two-Step will be giving a concert starting at 8 pm. This is part of the Lewis County Historic Society’s Black River Concert Series. Tickets are $18 in advance and $20 at the door.

Sunday, January 10th:

In North Creek, “Working for The Man Songs and Stories of Adirondack Lumberjacks and Miners” will be presented at the Tannery Pond Community Center at 3:30 pm. Non-members will be charged $5.

Photo: Steve Langdon at 7444 Gallery, part of a Light Box Musicians set taken by Ned P. Rauch


Thursday, December 31, 2009

Adirondack Music Scene: New Year’s Eve

It’s all happening tonight on New Year’s Eve. I hope everyone has a blast, listening, moving your bodies and celebrating. This is a great week to remember the amazing events of this past year and put a little thought into what you’d like to see happen in the new one. A toast to supporting and creating fantastic music in 2010.

Thursday, December 31st:

First Night in Saranac Lake! There are a bunch of great shows to check out. My advice; get to the venue early and buy your buttons now. Check out the website for the complete listing. I’m particularly fond of Big Slyde, Frankenpine and my band, The Dust Bunnies. I hope to see you out and about!

Also in Saranac Lake: at the Waterhole, Pie Boys Flat and Hot Day at The Zoo will be playing. These fun bands should get started around 9:30 pm, Pie Boys are first up.

In North Creek at barVino, The Tony Jenkins Jazz Trip starts at 9 pm.

In Lake Clear at Charlies Inn, Rock-n-Rob starts at 9 pm. It’s party, there will be hors d’oeuvres and champagne.

In Wilmington at Steinhoff’s, Big Boss Sausage will be playing starting at 9 pm. Steinhoff’s is also lucky enough to have chef Bill Bentz reigning over their kitchen.

In Saranac Lake at Captain Cook’s; Road Kill Dog starting at 10 pm until 2 am.

Photo: Pie Boys Flat


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Robert Louis Stevenson’s "A Christmas Sermon"

In Saranac Lake in December 1887, Robert Louis Stevenson wrote to a friend about the difficulties of reading a thermometer at below-zero, describing “the mercury, which curls up into the bulb like a hibernating bear.” The Scotsman spent that winter in the care of Dr. E. L. Trudeau, convalescing from a lung ailment. He complained endlessly of the weather. He called it “tragic,” “glum,” “exceedingly sharp,” “grey and harsh,” “doleful,” “bleak” and “blackguardly.” Yet, he conceded, “The climate has done me good.”

He wrote most of The Master of Ballantrae here (if you have not read it, spare yourself and rent the Errol Flynn version instead; it omits the Adirondack parts but ends more happily and speedily). And he composed several thoughtful essays, among them “A Christmas Sermon,” published in Scribner’s magazine in December 1888.

The “sermon” asks moralists and the judgmental to focus less on their neighbors’ conduct and more on their own: “If your morals make you dreary, depend upon it they are wrong. I do not say ‘give them up,’ for they may be all you have; but conceal them like a vice, lest they should spoil the lives of better and simpler people.”


A man’s main task is, “To be honest, to be kind—to earn a little and to spend a little less, to make upon the whole a family happier for his presence,” he wrote.

“But Christmas is not only the mile-mark of another year, moving us to thoughts of self-examination: it is a season, from all its associations, whether domestic or religious, suggesting thoughts of joy.”

Stevenson was a charismatic figure and a thinker who wrote more than pirate adventures. His letters, especially the (apparently) carelessly written ones, still make good reading. His Adirondack letters are online at Google Books, and “A Christmas Sermon” is online at gutenberg.org.

There are two places in Saranac Lake where visitors can learn about Stevenson: the Robert Louis Stevenson Memorial Cottage and Museum, and the Robert Louis Stevenson Tea Room; the latter is also a good place to eat.

Photograph of Robert Louis Stevenson, 1880


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Adirondack Family Activities: Saranac Lake First Night

With First Night® Saranac Lake we are getting set to blend our own New Year’s traditions with new ones. Parades, dancing, magicians, refreshments, music and fireworks are becoming an expected part of our beginning year rituals. My children have yet to decide on their New Year’s resolutions. I can certainly think of a few things that would be a welcome change. Their first instinct is not self improvement. The first round of resolutions usually has the word television attached to them.

Each country seems to hold strongly to its own traditions around New Year’s. I always think I will continue to have a lucky year with my first taste of black-eyed peas. My children are “having a feeling” we should stick strictly to the band and bypass the legumes.

To kick off this New Year’s Eve a snowperson building contest will be held at Riverside Park December 31st from 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. This event is open to all children and adults. It is touted as a “bring your own accessories” for your snowperson and prizes will be awarded. Then head over to the Petrova School Gymnasium for a mask-making workshop.

Masked and costumed balls have long been a custom, symbolizing the evil of the past. The goal is to throw off the mask with the old year and any bad spirits with it and count down to the new and start fresh with a kiss. My daughter gets a bit starry-eyed at the mention of the kiss.

The mask-making workshop is being offering to adults and children and being held from 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Using a mixed medium, anyone can decorate a mask in anticipation of the opening ceremonies at 5:30 p.m.

First Night® Saranac Lake is one of 130 events held around the world providing family-oriented, alcohol-free activities while showcasing arts and community.

There is still plenty of time to get your First Night® button ($12 for adults). It can be purchased at Ampersound Music, Price Chopper Supermarket, Books & Baskets, Blue Line Sports, Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Saranac Lake Chamber of Commerce or Lake Placid Visitor Bureau .

Children twelve and under are admitted free but need to display the First Night® button designed especially for them, which is to be available at all venues.

So whatever your traditions are, perhaps new ones can be made here or at one of the other First Night® venues.


Monday, November 30, 2009

A Saranac Lake Christmas Story

On Sunday December 13 Historic Saranac Lake will present “A Franklin Manor Christmas,” a tea hosted by Ann Laemmle and author Paul Willcott at their home, a former cure cottage and monastery on Franklin Avenue in Saranac Lake. The house is the centerpiece of Paul’s book, A Franklin Manor Christmas.

This novella was published last year too close to Christmas to get the attention it deserves. So here goes: it’s an old-fashioned, tenderhearted, improbable and snowbound tale, everything a Christmas story should be. The book is also true to Saranac Lake and its people. Many of the characters are based on real folks who share some history with the erstwhile nunnery, having either lived there or attended Mass or helped the sisters maintain the rambly building on a prayer.

Paul Willcott is a wonderful writer, but even better than reading him is listening to him read from his own book in his honest Texas drawl. The Historic Saranac Lake gathering begins with mingling, from 3 to 5 p.m. Ann, the most gifted baker in town, will provide holiday cookies, tea biscuits, homemade marshmallows with hot chocolate, and teas. Then Paul will present a history of the house, followed by a reading from his story. The session ends with a carol or two around the tree.

Tickets are $25. A limited number are available. Call Historic Saranac Lake (518) 891-4606 to reserve.

The book and audiobook A Franklin Manor Christmas are available here and here or in local bookstores.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

One Adirondack Turkey Gives Thanks

This is George, a turkey who lives down the hill. She’s so cute and sociable she’s been granted a Thanksgiving reprieve. She was hatched this summer in Standish and brought to Saranac Lake by a family who intended to fatten her up for a November feast. George endeared herself so much that she’s the one who’ll be feasting.

She lives with eight peacocks and probably thinks she is one. Have a happy Thanksgiving, George.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

WWI Exhibit to Be Open Free on Veterans Day

Tomorrow, November 11, Historic Saranac Lake will open its exhibit on World War I in Saranac Lake to the public 2 – 4 p.m. to commemorate Veterans Day. The community is invited to a free viewing in the John Black Room of the Saranac Laboratory at 89 Church Street. Light refreshments will be served.

Following is a press release from Historic Saranac Lake describing the origins of Veterans Day:

Veterans Day marks the date of the armistice between the Allied nations and Germany. On this date in 1918, WWI, the “War to end all wars” finally came to end. It was a war that took the lives of over 9 million military men, and left an indelible mark on the Village of Saranac Lake. Almost 300 residents of Saranac Lake served in some capacity in World War I.

The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words (quoted from the website of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs).

“Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and

“Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and

“Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday:

“Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.”

Photo: WWI officer John Baxter Black, provided to Historic Saranac Lake by his family.


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