By Jelane A. Kennedy
So started our day to prepare to go to Winter Carnival up in Saranac Lake, New York. I had not been to a winter carnival since the ’80’s when my college friend Laura and I took the greyhound bus from Alma, Michigan in the Lower Peninsula to Houghton, Michigan in the Upper Peninsula. Laura wanted to visit her boyfriend from high school. We were freshmen at college. He played on the hockey team. One of my high school friends, Jane, was also a freshman at Michigan Tech. Laura and I thought it would be a fun adventure to go up to Winter Carnival to see the Snow sculptures. My two memories besides the long bus ride were seeing the phenomenal bigger than life size snow sculptures made by the college students and going to the ice hockey game.
So I was excited to see the Ice Palace and all the fun scheduled events listed on the website for the Carnival. Plus our friend Linda from Connecticut was staying up there with a friend. We thought we might surprise her by bumping into her unexpectedly.
When we arrived the temperatures were hovering in the teens. Everyone was all bundled up. Kids of all ages and sizes with snow pants on. Of course the best were all the hats. The theme was “under the sea” and everywhere we looked we saw fish, octopus, and crabs. My favorites were the crab ladies running the women’s fry pan toss! What a hoot.
The Ice Palace was still a work in progress when we arrived. The Wednesday high temps and rain had most likely slowed the progress. For us the good news was that we got to see how it was all done. Frozen ice blocks being lifted by crane, bobcats zipping here and there. Watching people moving floating ice blocks out on the lake with big long picks. Seeing workers on walls with buckets of slush, cementing it all in place.
As our day progressed so did the Palace. We watched the Paul Smith Co-Ed woodsmen teams compete against each other as they cut logs with several differed saws. Slipping and sliding to keep them steady on the frozen snow surface. It was at this point we decided that we would never find Linda in our bundled up attire.
After seeing the woodsmen competition, palace building, curling exhibition we decided to take a small respite from the cold to visit the Chocolate Festival and Women’s Craft Fair in town hall. The highlight of the event for all, were the yummy baked goods. It had the feel of my hometown bazaar. We snagged a half a dozen cookies for 75 cents what a delicious deal.
Our next stop was to see the women’s fry pan toss. It was explained that this year two new fry pans had been bought that were made to hopefully not break in the freezing temperatures. Last year the competition had ended early when both cast iron fry pans had their handles break. To make up for the final categories not being able to compete last year they started with that group this year. The ladies over 50 picked up the new and improve 10 lb pan and we were off. Each style and technique was different. As we both watched I noticed at one point a woman on the ground with her camera held in the air in the way Linda would do it. The brand even looked right. Could it be Linda? As I moved around to see, I saw glasses and some red hair peeping out. I grabbed Eileen and we approached the woman on the ground.
“Oh, hi?” As she looked at my head covered in a hat, hood & sunglasses.
“You don’t know who it is, do you? It’s Eileen and Jelane.”
Suddenly her eyes lit with recognition. At which point she got up and introduced us to her friend Sandra, a local artist she was staying with.
What a nice end to the day. As we left town before it got too dark, we made a final stop at the Palace. We saw the flags flying and the little touches to the interior sculptures.
“Were you warm enough?” Asked Eileen as we drove a way.
“My only change would be that I should have put on my warmer boots and my gators to block the wind!”
“Me too, we will be ready for next year!”
(c) 2013 Jelane A. Kennedy