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Winter Carnival kicks off sans snow

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LAKE GEORGE -- Despite a lack of snow and ice, there’s still hope that Mother Nature will put the winter back in Lake George’s Winter Carnival.

With temperatures hovering in the 30s, close to 3,000 people attended the carnival’s opening day, according to event Co-Chairwoman Nancy Nichols. Around 500 people watched the outhouse races on Saturday, 800 to 900 were at the chili cook-off, and many others milled through the village.

"It was a beautiful day, especially for the families walking around, but it would be a lot better if we did have the ice," Nichols said. "We can hear it forming and it’s a wonderful sound."

The tethered balloon rides were very popular, the parade has grown and the bon fire on the beach let people enjoy an "old-fashioned winter celebration," Nichols added.

Sunday was light on events because of the Super Bowl, organizers said as they made announcements. There were some children’s activities in the afternoon, including a tube slide in Shepard Park and crafts at King Neptune’s Pub.

The carnival is important for village business, many of which open on weekends in February just for the carnival. Despite the warm winter and unfrozen lake, Lisa Owens, manager of King Neptune’s Pub, said she was pleased with the number of people who came out.

"I would say we normally see it a little bit bigger, but I was surprised to see so many families out," Owens said. "But the forecast coming up is cool, and if it drops a foot (of snow) on us, it’ll be all good."

Warren County Tourism Director Kate Johnson said not only can businesses benefit from the carnival, but they enhance the carnival as well.

"People appreciate being able to wander and stop somewhere for something to eat," she said.

Regional and national media exposure have kept attention on the area as a winter destination, even with a lack of snow, said Johnson.

"The organization is putting together a fabulous Winter Carnival by making lemonade out of lemons," she said.

Kraig Sendzik, a barista at Caffe Vero on Canada Street, said Saturday’s business started picking up between 1 and 4 p.m. because most carnival events start around noon. Sendzik said snow helps attract crowds, but the sunny skies might have also been a draw.

"It’s sunny and warm; I think it’s bringing out more people because of that," he said.

Carnival organizers are optimistic that over the next few weeks, enough ice could form to allow some activities to take place on the frozen lake. There is a contingency plan if that doesn’t happen, though.

The motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle ice race championship scheduled for next weekend, have been moved to the last weekend in February.

Next weekend, there will be a concentration on activities that don’t involve a lot the ice, such as a barbecue cook-off at Shepard Park and the tavern competition at Shepard Park Beach.

"I just want to stress that, yes, the Winter Carnival is going on and we have a lot of activities," Nichols said.

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