When Winter Carnival rolled around last year, my mom, sister, niece and nephew came to visit in Saranac Lake. We joined hundreds — thousands? — in watching fireworks down on Lake Flower, then inched our way toward the ice palace, flowing shoulder-to-shoulder with the rest of the crowd until we could cram into the ice-block structure’s passages.
Sounds crazy, right? In fact, in those moments some of us got more than a little apprehensive about our safety. That was then, though, and we pressed on through our claustrophobia and through the crowd.
Now? Likely we won’t be seeing each other again until mom gets her COVID shot, and certainly we wouldn’t stroll side-by-side anywhere in a big crowd. In fact, the carnival has downsized ambitions this year to just the palace and two fireworks sessions. That’s a major reduction from more than 100 related events last year, and it comes with a request that onlookers enjoy from a distance and from vehicles. The palace builders are working on an open design that visitors can admire without packing into it.
The good news: They are, in fact, working on it. I took my dog on a very cold stroll down there to see the progress. Cylindrical towers are rising. The pandemic has changed the Adirondacks as it’s changed the nation and world in the last year, but some things never change.
The park and its communities remain places to get outside and celebrate nature, including thick slabs of ice harvested from an Adirondack lake.
Construction begins on the Saranac Lake ice palace. Photo by Brandon Loomis.
Editor’s note: This first appeared in Brandon’s weekly “Explore More” newsletter. Click here to sign up.