Theme selection for the 2025 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival will be held at the Elks Lodge on 16 APR 2024! No new theme suggestions will be accepted.

Thanks for joining us at this year's Creepy Carnival! For more information on the selection of 2025's Winter Carnival theme, click here.

2025 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Dates - January 31st, 2025 - February 9th, 2025!!

Sara the Snowy Owl Fables

An Owl at Saranac Lake Winter Carnival

Read all the Sara the Snowy Owl fables, going back to 1998, and learn what the official Saranac Lake Winter Carnival mascot is up to the Adirondacks. These stories are created for all carnival-goers to enjoy in the program book, written by an anonymous individual.

2024 - Whispers in the Museum

Whispers in the Museum

Sara the Snowy Owl XXVII

The February 1969 Winter Carnival was going to be a three-day affair, and Sara the Snowy Owl had lots of plans for that week and that year.

This year was the first time in a long time Sara was planning on going south during the warm months. In July she planned to fly out over the Pacific Ocean to watch the landing of an Apollo Mission. One that she was hoping would see the return of the first men walking on the moon. Then in August there was supposed to be some good music in Bethel, New York.. that she had hoped to fly around and listen to.

But today she was playing bridge with her good friends at the new addition of the Saranac Lake Free Library. Edmund Guggenheim had donated the funding for the project that started a little more than a year ago. The Natural History Room and the Charles Dickert Memorial Wing was amazing.

Upon entering the library, who did she see but Thomas B. Cantwell, Esq. He was there returning books, but it seemed like he was always there since his law office was around the corner.

There was little Mr. Cantwell didn’t do, from being an Eagle Scout to help organize the Hanmer Memorial Guide Boat Races to supporting the rejuvenation of the Winter Carnival after World War II. He was Mr. Midas of the community, including being president of the Saranac Lake Free Library. He made everything sparkle.

Mr. Guggenheim was much the same kind of guy - - > cut from the same mettle. In fact he was one of the financial supporters of North Country Community College...which just opened in 1968 in the old hospital. Kathie DeCoste would be the first NCCC royalty, she was this year’s 1969 Princess.

Sara had contacted the library, Mr. Guggenheim and Mr. Cantwell several days before to see if they could play cards in the new room. Sara wanted to have a reunion of sorts. They understood and penciled her in for a reunion with friends and family.

Housed in the Charles Dickert ‘Still-Life Museum’ was Flow - Florence, Sara’s great, great aunt. Everyone called Florence - > Flow, not to shorten her name but because when she was soaring on a jet stream she flowed. Also, her great aunts Aerial & Celeste were there. So visits to the library would now be a family affair.

When her relatives died many many years ago, Mr. Dickert brought the aunts back to life in the form of taxidermy. The exhibit had been moved from the ski lodge at Whiteface Mountain in 1968, so now it was easier to visit her aunts. Visits to the library would be a family affair.

It was an eerie setting for a get-together, but her friends Barbara Hathaway, Ruth Cassin and Peggy Shene didn’t seem to mind. Or at least until later. The ladies just wanted to play cards and gossip.

An odd thing would happen during the game of bridge. They had a table sat up, with four chairs and Sara sat across from her partner Barbara. For the entire afternoon every time the big white bird looked to her partner, she also saw her great great aunt. On the last hand, the two teams were tied and Peggy joked, whoever wins this next hand will be world champions... and the ladies all laughed

Once the cards were dealt, the snowy owl looked at her hand, as did the others. She thought she had a trash hand, but you never know. When it came time to bid, Sara heard a voice say: “bid four hearts.”

Sara responded with a chuckle and said: “I think I will.”

The room got quiet and when Sara looked up the other three ladies were looking at her...then Barbara asked: “You will what?”

It was then that Sara realized that the voice she heard, was from within her head. Then, as strange as it could seem, she thought she saw Flow wink at her.

“Um... I bid four hearts,” the snowy owl said in a fluster. But as fortune would have it, that hand won.

“And now we have new world champions,” Ruth said and the ‘girls’ giggled.

Sara concluded with, “Well, I have to say: a four hearts hand was the perfect way to end another fun day with my friends.”

Normally the ‘four hearts’ would linger and talk some more, but there was a young girl there named Bailey who said she and her friends were coming to play a role-playing game.

After bidding adieu, the three women and Sara parted.

Unnerved, Sara realized she needed to go someplace to settle down. The voice and the wink had spooked her. Her first thought was her Carnival Home, also known as the Ice Palace, but she ruled that out because there would be too many people there.

She realized she needed to find one person - > her friend JA9.

JA9 a local Musician and wonderful friend was known as a calming influence. Just what the white feathery owl needed. When she got to JA9’s cabin, the woman was playing her violin and already Sara was feeling relaxed.

Sara rolled her wing to motion the violinist to play on.

When JA9 finished her song she jumped up and gave Sara a giant hug. But the musician instantly sensed something was wrong.

The owl started slowly and began to reveal her feeling of talking to an apparition... and a family member who helped her win a card game no less. In some waysv Sara felt a little guilty that she might have cheated her friends.

“O. M. G. Sara,” JA9 used the abbreviation instead of saying ‘oh my god.’ “Think about that, you got to talk to your aunt again. How lucky. And she so wanted you to win.. I bet she whispered to you without thinking, she just told you the best play.”

Then, true to form, JA9 added a little whimsical thought, “Bridge, that is a card game and not some kind of séance thing right?”

Sara couldn’t help herself and laughed. She didn’t know if JA9 was pulling her wing or really didn’t know what the card game was...either way it was nice to have light thoughts again.

“So you think this was real?” Sara asked.

“I don’t know, but I know when I remember of my friends and family that are no longer with us --- especially when I knew them well ---- that I know what they would say,” the musician said.

‘True,’ Sara thought.

“That is the cool thing about important people,” JA9 added. “Memories, maybe it is the energy you make or maybe it is the taxidermy you leave.”

And the friends laughed. Sara now had another voice that would be with her forever.

2023 - All American City

All American City

Sara the Snowy Owl XXVI

owl drawing


"But what?" said Sara, suppressing the desire to make a joke about tail feathers.

"But what if they tell each other?"

"Of course, they will tell each other. Husbands and Wives talk ... well, in a good marriage!"

"They certainly seem to be deserving."

The dialog went back and forth, then round and round. Like a pinwheel in a breeze.

That was the conversation Sara the Snowy Owl was listening to. Though technically she was not supposed to be there. It was a meeting of past Kings and Queens of Winter Carnival, to select the 1999 royalty, but the big white bird had her way of bending wings without ruffling feathers.

Sara couldn't be happier about the 1999 Winter Carnival, now that the Winter Festival ran a full week plus two days. And it needed to be that long --- there were so many events and activities that another weekend was almost mandatory.

Another weekend gave visitors a second chance because there wasn't any place to stay in the newly dubbed "All America City" if you didn't make reservations months in advance. That is how popular the Winter Carnival had become.

This was a great way for the big Snowy Owl to make new friends. Sara had always spent a week plus in the Village by the River. She would show up early and reconnect with the folks of Saranac Lake. The locals. Her home -- the Ice Palace was almost always ready ahead of time anyways. And if they knew she was coming, it would definitely be ready.

While the committee talked... Sara found it hard to not say anything.... but she was able to stay quiet -- for the most part. She was there, in theory, for moral support. She started to say something but took a sip of her ice water, which was now mostly ice.

Whenever she flew into town and settled at the Palace, word spread quickly amongst the locals who would say she had arrived at "Sara's Air B and B" ('B and B' standing for Bed and Base). People came from around the world to see the Ice Place.

When Carnival parade weekend rolled around, Sara was the Village ambassador, greeting all the visitors.

Now there were two Paul Smiths Woodsmen Exhibitions, with lumbering activities in Riverside Park. Of course, that wasn't the main thing people were talking about. There were two exciting new events The Arts Council of the Northern Adirondacks had a big concert with Skip Parson Riverboat Jazz Band at the Town Hall on the first/added weekend.

But Sara had a special interest in the mystery at the Hotel Saranac - "Ice Kapers." She heard it was about a missing trout. She loved trout and solving mysteries so she circled that event on her calendar. Best of all, after the play, the concert would still be going on.

She knew and loved the members of the play (Doug Fransen, Kristin Finn, Tim Dumas, Lisa Dumas, Jessica Deeb, Ann Fortune, Lynn DeWalt, Peter Wilson and Cheryl Stobeck, with Chris DeHond as the stage manager); she had seen them in many of the Community Theatre Players productions. Now they were in a Gem*Boy Production play.

She was excited to meet up with the writer/director Arthur Montage again. She had nicknamed him: "The Creator" because she knew he had a writing career. Sara had met Art last year at the coronation and the fluffy owl was looking forward to reconnecting. It was Art's suggestion that they didn't need to add another day.. they needed another weekend. Visitors would be more willing to visit, when they didn't need to take time off for work.

The selection committee conversation revolved around common factors when it came to the Winter Carnival Royalty. One was: no one was supposed to know who would be King and Queen until it was announced during the coronation. In this case, the King and Queen would know each other --- intimately. Of course, very few Kings or Queens were strangers to anyone in Saranac Lake.

Most future royalty like past monarchy ... were so involved in the fiber of the small-town community that it was hard to imagine how they couldn't. Saranac Lake was like Bedford Falls in the movie "It's a Wonderful Life." (ironically a radio drama once presented by Gem*Boy Productions). It was hard to imagine what the Village would be like without certain people.

But it was at this point that the committee was fractured. Some were saying, next year for the Browns, others were saying one, but not the other.. There were side conversations, and side conversations to the side conversations. A few were sitting dazed... and one or two knew it was past their bedtime.

The big white bird heard one of the past Queens say: "Rome wasn't built in a day." And she had no clue what that meant

The Snowy Owl was out of water and patience.

"Ahem," Sara said, a bit louder than she wanted. She had intended to excuse herself to get more water, but when all eyes looked at her...she started.

"Does anyone remember what the theme is?" she asked

"All America City," said Linda Piro.

"And do you remember how the team went to lobby for us... and how these two were part of that team," The Snowy Owl went on, while everyone nodded. "They were bragging about all the community connections Saranac Lake has...and for good reason..

"And the team went into the conference room, with a bucket of ice," Sara then added, "Does anybody know the story of what happened next?"

When she asked her question she swung her wing and the ice that was left in her glass went flying onto the floor.. and the cubes continued to spin.

Jacques DeMattos cleared his throat and said: "We put ice cubes on all of the tables and said it was part of the Ice Palace. It was like a spell was cast!"

Everyone heard Jacques and they had heard the story many times. But their eyes were on the floor where the ice cube continued to spin, like a fable told by a wise ol' owl

The vote was unanimous. Robert and Patricia Brown were the 1999 Winter Carnival King and Queen.

2022 - Not Fade Away

Not Fade Away

Sara the Snowy Owl XXV

owl drawing

Sara was shaking a tail feather to Meat Loaf's "All Revved up With no Place to Go." She wasn't the only one on the dance floor. The song had been a hit ever since 1977 and this was Saranac Lake in 1986 after all. The song was still on most jukeboxes in the Village by the River.

Though a Tuesday night, in February 1986, the town was hopping. You could say Saranac Lake was 'revved up,' but everyone had some place to go - Winter Carnival. February is often cold and quiet in February, but not when winter is celebrated.

It was one of the reasons Sara the Snowy Owl had been visiting for so many years. In fact, legend has it that the Village ice workers began building the Ice Place ever since her first visit, to be her home away from home. And for many who came to Saranac Lake...the Village was their second home.

And why not, Saranac Lake had always been a charming place to live, even if it was only for a day or two.

Part of that charm was the theme of this year: The Enchanted Village.

Everyone was dancing and waiting for another spellbinding weekend to begin.

It was not strange that songs about high school football would be popular in Saranac Lake, the village was a football town.

As much as Winter Carnival was part of Saranac Lake, so was football. In fact in 1967, when the Kings and Queens were paid, the village had selected Charles Gogolak, a professional football player, to be King.

Now it was the exciting 80's and once again the Kings and Queens were the folks that lived in and made their livelihood in the village. But Kings and Queens were not picked by how they earned their livings, but by how they made the Village a better place - by how they volunteered and served the community. Picked by their peers, former Kings and Queens.

In spite of a football song or the popularity of football.... the sports that were going to take place in the 1986 Winter Carnival were mostly ice or snow related. Lots of skating races and even Ice Diving.

Of course, ice held a special interest to Sara the Snowy Owl. When the big white bird was in town, the villagers would build her a home of ice, but it was always more a palace than anything else. On cold winter nights, when the wind was sweeping off of Lake Flower, she was glad to have the walls of the Ice Place to provide her with a cozy shelter... well cozy for a winter owl.

On a clear night she could see the sky above and all the constellations... and this year it was time for Halley's Comet to make an appearance, but since it was on the wrong side of the sun it wasn't the best view the big white bird had seen. In 1910 it had been brilliant. Though that year Sara had not visited Saranac Lake and watched it from Northern Quebec Province.

Sara was nervous about ice diving, but she knew once out of the water, she could give the participants a feathery hug. Everyone at the Winter Carnival Parades knew that a Snowy Owl hug warmed a person literally and figuratively.

As always, friends abound on the dance floor. Year after year the number of friends grew. Sara was a friendly bird and it seemed like – visitors or residents – everyone had heard of her. So many stories about the snowy owl that people felt like they knew her. Sitting by the jukebox was the snowy owl's good friend Laurie Pharaoh, a wise friend and new teacher. Laurie was not smiling and laughing like most.

Sara waddled over to cheer up her friend. This was not the first time the snowy owl had seen Laurie sad. In fact, it wasn't the first sad person that Sara had seen in February. The long winters were difficult for some. The fluffy bird always tried to cheer people up - but it wasn't always easy.

Laurie, now a young teacher, told Sara it had been a long school year for her. Though she loved children, almost as much as Sara, she was feeling down. Especially during the winter break her school was on. Sara knew something needed to happen to cheer her friend up because nobody should be sad during Winter Carnival.

While they talked the only time the attractive young woman smiled, was when she was regaling Sara with stories about her students. Often out of innocence, the children would reveal personal stories about their family. The story about handcuffs had Sara rolling on the floor.

The stories about family connections was ironic since this year's Queen was to be Mildred Keough and her King? Ronald B. Keough, her son. Ron often said it was appropriate since his mother had been the first woman he ever loved. Not to mention, after all she went through with him; she deserved to be Queen.

Sara popped a quarter in the jukebox and played "Truckin'," by the Grateful Dead. This also cheered up Laurie. What better antidote for melancholy than music, Sara thought. Then a thought occurred to her. The fluffy bird said she had to run, but not before she asked Laurie if she would help with the children's parade and party. Laurie hesitated, but realized what most know about Sara, it is hard to say no to the lovable owl.

Sara knew telling a joke or playing music wasn't always the best way to cheer someone up. But sometimes just showing you care was important!

Sara flew over to the splendor of the Ice Palace where she would be living for the next few days. As she expected she ran into a couple young girls, who would be added to the list of friends the white owl would make that year. Mandy Barseney and Janeen Streeter were racing each other around the Palace and to the ice slide. For many years there would be an endless supply of giggles coming from the various slides that the Ice Palace Workers 101 would build.

As luck would have it, both girls loved music. In fact Janeen's parents were famous throughout the Adirondacks because of their 'family band'. And they were also going to the Kiddie Parade and Party. Sara gave the girls each a set of spoons and got out a boombox. Being hip children Mandy said: "Gag me with a spoon" and laughed, then when Janeen saw the boombox she said: "Bodacious," in admiration.

The girls were quick studies and had the lyrics memorized in no time. And they were naturals on the rhythm of the spoons.

The next day, when Laurie arrived at the Kid's Party she heard the clack of spoons in the rhythm of: bomp bomp --- bomp-bomp; and then Mandy and Janeen singing.

"My love is bigger than a Cadillac
Baby baby not fade away"

Laurie laughed and laughed throughout the song. Then everyone danced danced danced until it was time for Candy.

2021 - Like Magic

Like Magic

owl drawing

Sara was flying circles over Saranac Lake. She was floating as much as she could on the breeze while she looked for friends and Winter Carnival Activities. She was early, and she thought there might be some activities. It was Wednesday and officially the 1956 carnival didn’t start until February 10.

It was early in the day and though there was some activity at the Ice Palace, not much building was going on. From a distance, it looked like the job was almost done. This year 25-year-old Don Duso was taking over as the ‘block cutter.’ The fluffy owl knew Don well and she could depend on him to make her a good home.

She had seen him often at Crescent Bay Marina helping out his dad, Harry Duso. Not to mention when Don was 10 he had pull Albert Einstein out of his sailboat on Lower Saranac Lake. The Nobel Prize winner had tangled up his leg in the rigging, though Einstein knew a good bit about physics, he couldn’t physically undo himself. Fortunately Don was out and about.

Sara swung around to Lake Colby and noticed in an open area there were four log targets perched on wood tripods. Each with an ax or two lodged into them. As the feathery bird descended, more axes hit the targets. Four woodsmen (well three were woodswomen) were now removing the axes. It was not so easy to tell who was who since all the woodsmen were bundled up. All for had scarves on that covered their faces.

Where they had been, a line was drawn. And a woman stood there with a clipboard and was writing down notes. Beside her were various saws, logs, cross saws and peaveys for moving logs around. Also, there looked to be the makings of a big bonfire, which was really the remains of the woodsmen practice. A good woodsmen generates a lot of kindling.

Sara introduced herself and learned the woman at the throwing line was Lucy Ford, the coach of the woodsmen team.

“And who are the masked marauders?” Sara asked the coach.

Lucy laughed and responded: “That would be a good moniker, or today it would be, but I have already dub them ‘The MAJC4’!” And when she said MAJC she pronounced it ‘magic’.

The the coach introduced the four: Marley (with the red scarf), Alana (with a sparkly princess scarf, that reflected in the sun like a flame), Jayde (with a multicolor scarf that dipped below her nose) and Christopher (with a simple black scarf). Their nickname was an acronym of their initials. The winter owl learned each of the four had their specialty, but all experts with the throwing ax. Also, they were preparing for the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Woodsmen’s Exhibition.

Once Sara had the times and dates of the performance, she said her goodbyes and headed out to see some old friends and to check on the Ice Palace. She also wanted to say hello to Tony (aka (Alton B. "Tony" Anderson)

Tony was 56, and looked like he would live to be 100. He had come to Saranac Lake suffering from tuberculosis when he was 20. Like many, ‘the cure’ worked for Tony and he thrived in Village by the River... He was now mayor now, as well as the Winter Carnival Chamberlin. Tony a mover and shaker in Saranac Lake and the man to talk to if you wanted to know what was going on in the Village. The mayor caught Sara up on the different happenings from the past year, as well as some of the events planned for the coming weekend.

He asked his white feathery friend if Sara would help with the PTA Children's Skating Party. He knew the snowy owl never turned down a chance to dance with children and had an idea of adding limbo to the event. Sara now had her itinerary almost set for the weekend.

As the two chums were departing the mayor asked: “By the way how are you going to make this Winter Carnival special.”

Sara gave Tony a bemused look. Then Tony added: “Every year, one way or another, you find a way to brighten our lives.... but no pressure. Ha ha.”

On her flight to the Palace she was lost in thoughts. All the years Sara had come to Saranac Lake, she had thought it was the residents of the village who had illuminated HER life, not the other way around. Then, like a flash, a lightbulb went off above the head of the big white bird. Instead of landing at the Palace, she turned a tail feather and headed back to Lake Colby.

The MAJC4 were collecting their scraps when Sara landed. She quickly told them the plan. While they weren’t into it so much, until Sara told them they get to throw their axes and there would be fire. All they had to do is fill five bushel baskets with their driest splinter. They only had four days to prepare so she had to be quick.

She swooped over to Carl Hathaway’s Boat Shop. She sold her idea to the boat builders Carl and Ralph Morrow, they both thought it was a crazy idea, but pointed out so was trying to make a living out of making guideboats and agreed they could build four simple catapults in four days, in fact with their extra trim they could do it in two.

It was a good thing that Sara the Snowy Owl could fly. It helped her to attend most of the events and still be able to help out MAJC4 and Carl and Ralph. Like most years it was a great Carnival, but when it was over Sara would need a week of rest.

The ‘big moment’ came on Sunday, February 10. To make sure everyone was at the Ice Palace hooked a cable to cauldron filled with woodsmen scraps, set it aflame and started circling the Village. The bird was noticed and villagers began to follow her to the Ice Palace. When she landed to restock her cauldron, Sara was coughing. That is when Jayde of the MAJC4 gave her her scarf to stop the smoke from getting into the Snowy Owl’s beak. Now she looked like a masked marauder.

After the second loop, most of Saranac Lake had assembled at the Ice Palace. Then Sara gave the signal and the axes started to fly, severing the the ropes attached to the catapults, sending the flaming baskets high into the air for a night show few would forget.

Bringing luminance to the Saranac Lake night.

2020 - King of the Trees

King of the Trees

Sara the Snowy Owl XXIII

owl drawing

Sara landed in a tall birch tree, in the little pocket woods behind the animal shelter on 11 Mills Avenue. After the long flight from the great white north, she was glad to have a little rest. And in the tree she could wait for her four-legged friends that would come out for a walk in a little bit.

The shelter was now known as Tri-Lakes Humane Society... and would soon be moving from Mills Ave to a new location on George LaPan Highway... but that was a couple years or so away.

1998 was going to be a big year for Winter Carnival, it was the anniversary of Sara's first visit to the village by the river and the time the villagers had built a Ice Palace shelter for Sara. King Jacque and Queen Linda would ensure a fun carnival and after about 100 years this Winter Carnival was very special for Sara the Snowy Owl.

Just around the corner, the finishing touches were being put on the Union Depot and it was just a matter of time before there would be the sound of a train chugging into Saranac Lake.

Sara was losing herself in some reminiscing and why not, the theme for this year's Carnival was “Magical Memories!” Suddenly a young voice brought her back to the present.

“Hey bird, what are you doing,” came a voice from a 12-year-old Steve in a tree next to Sara.

Generally speaking it took a good bit to startle Sara, she usually was the most observant animal in the forest, but she had not noticed Steve and she almost lost the grip she had on the birch branch.

“Well if you look close, you would see I am perched here enjoying the view of the village.. waiting to meet some of my friends from the Animal Shelter. And you, young man, what are you doing?” asked Sara.

“I am king of the trees and I’m just waiting for hockey practice to start at the Civic Center -- down the road,” replied the young boy, who like most children in Saranac Lake was well aware of Sara and had been expecting her. The big white owl might have been the most popular bird in the Adirondacks because of her yearly winter visits.

“King, you say?” hooted Sara. She thought: well not Jacque DeMattos king, but anyone perched so high in a tree might very well be the king of trees. And certainly a new friend to make an acquaintance.

“Don’t forget me,” came a voice from another tree. “I’m the assistant to the king of the trees.”

Apparently, tree royalty abounded around this area of the village. The boys, Steve and Thomas, were well known for their interests in the forests around Saranac Lake. Sara soon learned these young tree climbers were also planning on being entrepreneurs... doing what they loved, taking care of trees.

After a warm conversation, Sara noticed her friends leaving the Animal Shelter -- the two she had been waiting to meet for lunch. Sara had scheduled to meet Kathy and Lorraine Anette Gast at the Shelter. The two often visited the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival and always made their first stop at Mills Street where they would play with cats and walk the dogs.

Sara excused herself from the tree royalty and all three agreed if they didn’t see each other at one of the many fun events planned this year, they would spend some tree time after the parade. Steve and Thomas hid their smirks, knowing that their reunion was only a couple days away.

Kathy and Lorraine insisted they go to the Lake View Deli, across from the Ice Palace (the palace was also know as Sara’s home away from home) then heading to the Palace. At the Ice Palace the three ran into Lynn Zuliani, who had a camera in hand.

It didn’t surprise Sara, since Lynn was an artist and the Palace was a wonder of sparkling ice. What was a little unusual was Zuliani insisted on taking many, many pictures of Sara. Photographs on the blocks of ice, perched at the top of the Palace and in front of the Palace posing with various Ice Palace Workers.

Sara offered Zuliani some of her sandwich, but the artist declined and apologized, explaining to the big white bird she had a project that needed to be taken care of before the Coronation on Saturday.

Little did Sara know, this was all planned. The Niederbuhl Bros. had been waiting in the trees for Sara’s arrival and as soon as she said goodbye to Steve and Thomas, they quickly contacted Zuliani, so she could be waiting at the Palace. To make sure the artist had time to get there in time, Kathy and Lorraine took a lot of time picking out their sandwiches. Sara was a very patient owl, but even she had been getting a little fidgety about how long it took the two women.

Now the plan was in action and no more trickery would be needed. Though every thing was well planned out, everyone who came across Sara’s path before the Coronation had to bite their tongue, lest a giggle or a hint would give away the secret.

A 100 year anniversary needs a special act of celebration, be it for an Ice Palace or for the kindness of a wonderful feathery friend.

Sara was soon to join the Ice Palace as the face of Winter Carnival!

As soon as Jacques DeMattos and Linda Piro were crowned king and Queen of Winter Carnival, all of the royalty turned and looked at Sara, seated in the front row and the big owl was then called to the stage.

When Sara heard her name called, you could have knocked her over with a feather... any feather from a big white snowy owl feather to a little brown chickadee feather. Stepping from the wings onto the stage with King Jacque and Queen Linda was none other than Lynn Zuliani with a picture under her arm.

Feathery hugs abounded on the stage, though Sara was still wondering what was going on.

Sara was handed a program and a decree. On the 100th anniversary of the first Ice Palace and Sara’s first flight into Saranac anyone official, Sara was given an official portrait. One that had been rendered by Lynn Zuliani. And then the big announcement:

Sara was now the official mascot of Winter Carnival.

2019 Dew We or Don't We

Dew We or Don't We

Sara the Snowy Owl XXI

owl drawing

The Dewey family roled their late-model sedan into the wintery Village of Saranac Lake. The village was a flurry with preparations for Winter Carnival. The Dewey’s were headed to Lake Placid but stopped in their tracks in the village by the River. Most appealing was the setup for the coming night parade with torch lights.

Almost as exciting was the local radio station, WNBZ, was playing show tunes and the whole car was singing along. In the car was mom and three kids. They had thought they would try to meet with someone from the Melvil Dewey clan and the Lake Placid Club, but with the chance to enjoy a winter celebration like Saranac Lake was putting on, they decided to catch the moment.

The Dewey’s: Brooke (mom), Logan (13), Charlie (8) and Fynn (6) was a single mom family since World War II, but that didn’t stop them from adventures and they were just beginning a new one. Especially now that they were going to enjoy the February Winter Carnival.

The family stopped into Bernie Wilson's Restaurant -- more for ice cream, than anything else. Logan had a sweet tooth, but everyone was hungry and they were able to enjoy a delicious lunch. They also found out about a place to stay.

Many folks in town had built curing cottages on their property and now that the ‘Curing Industry’ was dwindling, people were renting the cottages out to healthy visitors. One of the other people eating lunch had just a place and the Dewey’s booked the place for all of 1952 Winter Carnival.

The place the Dewey’s found, was a little small, but very inexpensive, and walking distance into town. There were many activities, including the chance to watch the coronation of a king and queen right in the center of town on the Hotel Saranac Balcony. This year the King and Queen were going to have a court from the high school; “but no jester,” Fynn pointed out.

After lunch and when they were settled into the cottage, they grabbed their skates and walked back into town. When they got there, they couldn’t believe their eyes, there bigger than life... as in giant, was a big snowy owl skating with all the kids of Saranac Lake. The Dewey’s asked about the bird and were told her name was Sara and that she had been coming to Saranac Lake for many years.

It seemed everyone, but the Dewey's knew who Sara was, and why not, in the Adirondacks the snowy owl was a celebrity. Many times she had helped out with Winter Carnival, which she considered a good payback since the villagers often built her an Ice Palace to live in during her visits.

It was pretty clear Sara knew a thing or two about skating because she was doing jumps and an occasional pirouettes ... though she was a little sketchy on the pirouettes. Jumps were easy for the bird, but with her wingspan - a spinning pivot was kind of off camber for Sara. Right then, in the middle of a big gyration, Sara fell and landed where the tail feathers grow.

“Look, mom, Sara fell on her butt,” shouted the 7-year-old Charlie.

The almond-eyed girl started to regret the comment when Sara got up and skated to the middle of the Dewey family.

“Uh oh,” Charlie sheepishly muttered. Fynn was giggling, he liked to see either of his older sisters get in trouble.

However, Charlie wasn’t in trouble, Sara just wanted to give the girl a big feathery hug and meet the cheeky little girl, after all the big owl could fly high and far, but was not she was not above a good laugh.

“Do you want to come skating with me?” asked Sara.

“Dew we, that’s our name!” exclaimed the little girl and all the Dewey kids jumped up and went for a skate with Sara.

When the Dewey kids had made friends with other skaters, Sara took a break and went over to talk to some of the parents over by the bonfire. The big conversation seemed to be the Saranac Lake Tuberculosis Society's ambulance... or the expense of running a rescue squad. Since many of the well-heeled curing patients were not coming to Saranac Lake, there were fewer and fewer donations to the costs of the rescue service.

One of the drivers was there and he said it is too bad because the service is needed.

“You never know when the next emergency will be,” he pointed out

As if on cue, everyone heard: “YEEEOOOWOWOWOOOOOW!”

On the ice was Charlie, face down. She had joined some of the older skaters in a game of ‘bullwhip’ and the girl had been snapped off the end. When everyone had gotten to Charlie, she was crying and it was clear she had hurt her left hand.

Her mother was a bit shaken up. She asked Sara to watch over Logan and Fynn while she took Charlie to get the family car and then drive up to the hospital.

“I can watch the kids, but why not take advantage of the ambulance,” Sara said and pointed to the driver who nodded.

Okay, Brooke and Charlie jumped into the ambulance and away they went.

Of course, that left Logan and Fynn with a ‘now what’ look on their face.

Sara, just smiled, because there were more things to do than you could shake a tail feather at. First, they headed to the snowmobile races which Fynn loved, then over to the Fish and Game Club for the Skeet Shooting.

When Logan asked if she could she could try it, they snickered a little. but when she dusted 19 clays.. they were applauding and gave her an award for the ‘Best Shooter Under the Age of 14” which was kind of funny, since she had outshot a few guys older than 50.

At the end of the Skeet, Fynn and Logan invited Sara over for chicken tacos, which was something Sara could not refuse. When they arrived at the curing cottage, Charlie and Brooke were already starting dinner. Charlie was helping with her right hand,since she had badly sprained the left and was wearing an All Cotton Elastic bandage.

She wanted to call it a Queen bandage, but Sara said that would make the King jealous, and insisted they call it an ‘ACE bandage,’ which is what it is now known as today.

“We have to eat up and fast,” Charlie said. “The night Parade starts in 87 minutes.”

Eat up they did, with plenty of time to get to the parade. With a twinkle in her eyes, Sara told Charlie to meet her at the beginning of the parade. She wouldn’t say why, but Sara always had a trick up her wing.

The plan was to have the ambulance at the front of the parade, with Charlie (and her Ace bandage) carrying a sign.

“The Rescue $quad helped me, please help the Rescue $quad!”

2018 - Hoo Goes Woof

Hoo Goes Woof

Sara the Snowy Owl XXI

owl drawing

Emmanuel, or 'Manny' as he was known to most all in Saranac Lake, was walking down Main Street. He wasn't easy to pick out because in 1948 the Village by the River was bustling.

There was one thing that set him apart — a bugle under his arm. He was on the way to the Saranac Lake Free Library for an Adirondack Animal Welfare Society (AAWS), which Manny was the President. Not only was he the leader, but he had the honor of being the youngest (at age 17) president of a humane society in the United States.

To say Manny was invested in the safety of animals, was like saying sleds slide down Blood Hill. It would be impossible to stop the sleds or Manny. In fact, Manny started the AAWS at age 12. So it was no surprised Sara the Snowy Owl and Manny were very good friends. It was as if they spoke the same language.

Sara swooped down behind the busy teenager and let out a long: "Hoooooo."

And true form, Manny responded with: "Woof!"

He turned around with a smile as wide as Broadway, then gave Sara a fine, feathered friend hug. The young man was happy to see his Sara.

"I see you are on the A to B path to your meeting," Sara said.

"Not very creative," Manny laughed. "But when you are running late, you have to be logical."

Sara chuckled too. She had referenced one of Manny's favorite quotes by Albert Einstein: "Logic can get you from A to B. Creativity can get you everywhere."

Sara had never met Einstein, since he mainly visited during the summer. He spent much of the war in Saranac Lake and all the villagers knew Al, or at least knew of him. They often told stories about being lost on or capsizing his sailboat.

Manny told Sara he was on his way to an AAWS meeting and couldn't talk long. Plus there was no way the two of them could have a conversation on Main Street. Each knew too many people, they spent at least five minutes saying just hello to all the Villagers that walked past them.

Many wanted to talk to Sara, it had been a year since her last visit and everyone loved the Snowy Owl from up north. Almost as many were thanking Manny who took in local animals that had been mistreated. Most of their friends didn't want to talk, but even a minute or two with so many folks took a lot of time.

They would have to catch up later. He did ask for one favor, for Sara to fly over to his place and feed & water the dogs he had at his place. Being the president and founder of the AAWS also included the duty that when an animal was being mistreated by his or her owner to board them. Manny would sound his bugle and his team would rescue the animal. Until a new owner was found the AAWS President would be in charge of their care.

Off when Manny and Sara decided she would stop to say hello to Sparky Coleman before her flight to Manny's animal bed and breakfast. Sparky was always good for a joke or two, maybe 27. Sara wasn't the only one who stopped in, in the 15 minutes that she was there, she must have heard the 'blender' joke about eight times.

One thing for sure, Saranac Lake knew how to end one year and begin another, with a Winter Carnival! Carnival would start on December 31, with a wonderful New Year's bash and wouldn't end until January 9, 1949. The Village by the River had Sara's Ice Palace up and read. The Palace was a spectacle. People came from all over to see Sara temporary housing on Lake Flower.

Sara was almost knocked over by Sully Pellitieri and Lois Kelley, who were on their afternoon walk. The two were a couple of the remaining residents at Will Rogers Memorial Hospital (formerly National Vaudeville Artists' Home). Sara was impressed that they were walking from the hospital's location up on the former Spion Kop property. Or more that, after a hardy walk, they could get back up the hill to the Tudor-style building.

Bidding the two women goodbye Sara flapped her wings and was soon feeding and watering the dogs. Madyson, Jager, Edith and Reba were happy to see her and were yipping and barking. Even after getting fed and watered the dogs were wound up. It was clear that the dogs needed some exercise. Sara put a leash on Madyson and Jager. As soon as the door was open the dogs were off racing to smell everything that might have a sent. They were fast, but the big owl held tight with her talons.

Sara was like a kite behind the dogs as they ran through the woods. She spread her broad wings to slow the dogs, but they were taking her for a ride she would not soon forget. After those two were worn out, she took Reba and Edith for a walk, but for them, only one at a time.

Once the walks were over and Sara had caught her breath, Manny showed up.

"I see you noticed the dogs need someone to walk them," he pointed out. "Someone who can handle the pace.

"Yes and I might have a solution," Sara told the bugle boy.

Sara had great fun in '49, in spite of the fact that the skating races were canceled because of rain. She was able to recruit several friends to be in her Feathers and Fur Marching Brigade. Leading the way was Edith and Reba with Lois and Sully at the end of the leashes. And all of the AAWS following.

And Manny was laughing at the creativity that got the dogs past A and B, and into a parade.

Sara hopes you will consider visiting her friends at the Tri-Lakes Animal Shelter.

2017 - To a T

To a T

Sara the Snowy Owl XX

owl drawing

Sara swooped down and landed on the "T" in hotel, of the Hotel Saranac sign.
The big snowy owl scanned the village for friends. Several were putting the finishing touches on the Ice Palace, or 'home' as she referred to it. The Ice Palace Workers had included several conifers to give the place the back in the woods feel.
It was a brisk day on February 7. The temperature was 5°, not too bad for Sara, who loved the cold, but most all others would admit that was cold. The next day the Winter Carnival was going to start and the high predicted was 3°! Fortunately, by Sunday it was going to be in the 20's, but it would be cold on Parade Day.

The 1985 Carnival felt more local than ever since North Country Community College had picked Mary Beth Perras (a local girl) to be the princess, two years later her dad would be King. Matt Snyder of Paul Smiths College was the Prince. The king and queen would soon be picked. That event would be announced at the coronation on Friday.
From her perch she could hear the wind whistle... or maybe it was Howard Victor "Prof" Littell who was believed to be living in the Hotel Saranac, as a ghost. It made sense, in some ways, in that the grand hotel sat on the former site of the high school where Littell taught.

Then Sara heard some laughter, feminine laughter, and she knew it was a voice from the past, but was not a ghost. Coming out the front door was her artist friend Tomi ARThur. Everyone called her Tomi ART because she would sign her name 'Tomi ARThur.' Tomi had painted Sara's portrait a couple times.
When Sara swooped down from the hotel 'T' Tomi was talking to a couple from Ohio. It wasn't unusual for Tomi to be talking to someone ( she was one of the best marketers of art around) or that there were people in Saranac Lake from Ohio.
People had been coming from far and wide to see the palace of ice, which Sara called home. The Saranac Lake Winter Carnival was well known and now a regular event.

Since 1946, Saranac Lake has had a Carnival, Ice Palace and a regular visit from Sara every year. Prior to that, there were Winter Carnivals (and the company of Sara), but not always in consecutive years - - until after WWII.
Sara had been visiting the little curing village since 1898, when the residents began building her a palace to sleep in and protect her from the winds off Lake Flower. Of course, because of the many activities going on during the winter festival, she didn't sleep all that much. This was one of the main reasons why everyone planned trips to Saranac Lake in February--- seeing the parade and the Ice Palace, along with the many events, there didn't seem to be enough time in three days! Fortunately, weather permitting; the ice fortress was not taken down until March 1.

The building of the Palace by the IPW 101 was no light undertaking. In fact, the 1985 Palace weighed 1,440,000 pounds. That is a lot of cutting, lifting, sliding and slushing together of ice blocks. Not to mention a lot of water over the dam come spring and the big owl appreciated every bit of it. With such a centerpiece of the Ice Palace in place, it was no wonder the theme was "The Magic Kingdom,".

Tomi ART was talking to Marcia and Pat O'Connor from Ohio. Pat owned a record store in Toledo and Tomi thought he might be interested in selling some of her psychedelic art. They were a fun couple and Pat suggested some music Sara would enjoy, on the long winter nights when she returned up north. She would find the music a little edgy but great for shaking a tail feather and warming up.

The Hotel Saranac seemed to be a happening place because having lunch in the hotel's restaurant was Phil Gallos. Phil's book "Cure Cottages of Saranac Lake" (a culmination of nearly three years of research) was about to be published and Sara couldn't wait to read about all her friends that were in the book.
And speaking of books, Joyce Meagher, librarian of the Saranac Lake Free Library across the street, stepped out the door to give Sara a wave 'hello' and the Snowy Owl gave a feathery one right back. Everyone was in a festive mood and ready to celebrate winter.

It was a well-known fact, if you wanted to find someone during Carnival, you just needed to stand outside the grand hotel and you would run into them. It was fast becoming the official reunion facility for the Paul Smith's College Alumni... and all alumnus of Winter Carnival.

And of course, that is just what happened when Dr. Francis B. Trudeau, grandson of Dr. Edward L. Trudeau, walked by and Sara gave him a big feathery hug. Turns out Dr. Francis was going to be the grand marshal of the parade. And this was the year the good doctor was going to retire. He was interested in research as much as his grandfather and had created Trudeau Institute in 1964, and sparked a revival in research for the village by the river.

"Sara, good to see you," Dr. Trudeau said. "I need your help, to deliver a baby."
Somehow Dr. Francis has mistaken me for a stork, the owl thought.
Francis could tell that Sara was confused: "I don't mean 'a' baby, I mean 'my' baby."

This was even more confused, she knew that Gary Trudeau, cartoonist and creator of the Winter Carnival Buttons, was an adult and in his 3o's.
"I'm not making this clear." Dr. Trudeau said, then explained: "I left one of Ursula's paintings in the city.. .and because of the parade I won't have time to get it. I suppose I could find some currier, but I am sure you could deliver it faster."
Sara looked at her wing, at the watch she didn't wear, and smiled: "Sure, but will it be safe in the flight?"

Just then, Tomi who had been eavesdropping, offered to help. She had some cylinders that Sara could put the painting in and they even had a strap that the snowy owl could hold in her beak. After a quick bite to eat (and why not? the Boathouse bistro was right there in the Hotel with the best Ruebens around!!), Sara was off, flying over the beauty of the Adirondacks.

Sara returned just in time to see her friend Katee Fobare crowned as queen of Winter Carnival and to meet the new King: Clarence McCormick.

When she gave the painting to Dr. Francis at the coronation, he told her that she wasn't the first or the last person to bring art to Saranac Lake, but he was so glad she did it in style. He promised her a ride in the Grand Marshal Car. Sara declined, because she liked walking in the parade and giving all the children big hugs.

It is rumored that Artist Tim Fortune had come home for a visit and that he was sitting the Harrietstown Hall for the coronation. Fortune may or may not have heard Dr. Francis and Sara discussing art and its importance to the village... One thing for sure, a couple years later he was making a life and a 'small fortune' with his art in Saranac Lake. And it fit him like a 'T' on the Hotel Saranac sign.

2016 - Friends in Town

Friends in Town

owl at parade

Saranac Lake is a friendly place. That is something Sara the Snowy Owl knew quite well. Anyone who spends time in the little village knows it.

Sara knew that Saranac Lake was not just a onetime visit type of place. She thought that in 1898, when she first happened upon the hustle and bustle of the village with a river meandering through it, but that lead to more and more visits. Just like Sara, and those who didn’t fly, would be thinking of their second visit halfway through the first. Ten visits later they would be thinking of a summer home... then if they could make Saranac Lake their new home.

You had to have a warm heart to live in a place where the high temperature of the open day of Winter Carnival 1963 was 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Even for Sara that was pretty cold and she was glad to see the Ice Palace was in place to protect her from the winds that rolled off Lake Flower. She referred to the Palace as her ‘wall of warmth’ but it was much more than a wall.

If it wasn’t so warm in the summer, the snowy bird would have considered Saranac Lake as a permanent home. When she thought about it, she had more friends in the former curing village than anywhere else.

While the village was no longer home to the Trudeau Sanatorium, it would soon be home to the Trudeau Institute, which was scheduled to open in 1964. So there has been a long history of helping and taking care of people.

Sara figured she had more friends in Saranac Lake than she had tail feathers. But all her friends were not Saranac Lake residents. Winter carnival was being held regularly every year and had become quite popular. Travelers were making Winter Carnival a regular part of their winter.

She had met so many people who were friends it was getting difficult to remember them all. Of course there were the regulars, like little girl Leda Ovitt who’s family drove up from Indian Lake each year and Leda would slide down the ice slide.

Indian Lake was a short drive compared to the couple Sara was to meet outside the Palace later on, but now she was on the way to see the king.

Sara couldn’t wait. After spending 11 months north with no one to talk to, she was going to see Saranac Lake’s adopted son and the 1963 king -- the legendary Larry Doyle. Laughing Larry, as he was often called, was not just legendary because of his baseball career of playing for the New York Giants (before they left for San Francisco). He was a Saranac legend because after he cured for tuberculosis in 1942-54, he stayed in the village and was one of the best story tellers ever. Sara, like anyone else coming to the Dew Drop Inn (where Mr. Doyle was often found), could be sure to leave with a smile.

Now Larry Doyle, Saranac Lake’s “most noted citizen,” was being honored as the King of Winter Carnival, along with Loretta Ann Rissell, who was that year’s Miss Rheingold. Sara caught up with the two at her favorite restaurant, the Belvedere. She usually dined there after the parade. This year she had plans to have dinner at the ‘Bel’ after going to the Fancy Cress Carnival on Ice. No one had to twist her wing to convince her to enjoy fine Italian dining twice.

Mr. Doyle was at a big table and had met his match for story telling with the Pharmacist and owner of Post Office Pharmacy - Carl J. Bevilacqua. If you watched Mr. B behind the counter you would see the serious man filling prescriptions, but if you were lucky to socialize with him, you would realize he was quite a raconteur. Mr. B and Laughing Larry were going toe to toe with funny stories. By the end of dinner everyone knew they would have sore bellies the next day from laughing so much.

As was the case, no one could wrestle the bill from Mr. B. He told the table that buying dinner for such a great group of friends was worth more than the price of a few meals.

Once she got over to the Ice Palace, the fortress that her friends built for her, she thought she would take a nap. She tucked her head under her wing and started to slip off to dreamland. Before she could land in the kingdom of slumber, she heard voices outside. She thought she recognized an accent, but between the teeth chattering she wasn’t sure.

She found Olga and Santiago who had driven their Mini Bus from Monterrey Mexico and it was clear the light jackets they were wearing might be fine in Mexico, but weren’t doing the job up north.

The two had heard about Saranac Lake and wanted to see a fortress made of frozen lake water. Sara sauntered over to her and started giving them hugs to warm them up. They said it never gets that cold in Mexico and Sara reminded them they don’t have Palaces made of ice in Mexico.

After warming the two up with her feathers, she found out they were in a dilemma. When they left four days ago, they never thought there would be no vacancies. Olga and Santiago found out the hard way that many people like Winter Carnival so much that the village hotels and motels were half full for the next year already. People would book their room for the following year when they checked out.

The big bird would have gladly invited them to stay with her, but the palace wasn’t very toasty for humans.

First things first... she got them over to Wilson's Clothing Company. Bud Duffy was just closing up, but when he heard their story, he kindly let them shop.

“Amigo, tu eres un buen hombre,” Santiago told Mr. Duffy. “Some day you should be king of Winter Carnival.”

Bud chuckled and asked that they put in a good word for him. Spending some time in Wilson’s and now attired in winter clothing, the chattering of teeth had stopped. That left one more task, housing. Then Sara thought of the solution. The two from south of the border would not have to find a motel, they would just have to find a friend. One with a curing cottage, that was no longer being used.

Sara had often joked that Saranac Lake had started the phrase: ‘cottage industry,’ because so many people in the village were able to supplement their incomes by building a curing cottage on their property and taking care of TB patients.

Within two hours they got a lead from a friend of a friend, who knew of a friend who had a place. Sara loved the social network of Saranac Lake. The heat was turned on and cottage housed the two intrepid travelers.

The owners made a little money and the two visitors were able to enjoy Winter Carnival. When the two return to Monterrey, they were able to tell great stories about Sara the Snowy Owl and bragged about the friendly and welcoming residents of Saranac Lake.

2015 - Sara Volunteers

Sara Volunteers

Sara the Snowy Owl was looking all over for Miss Robin Gundel, but every place someone thought she was, she wasn't. The big snowy owl loved to check in with friends when she made her trip down to Saranac Lake. Celebrating Winter Carnival was fun, but not as much enjoyment as touching base with the many friendly folks of Saranac Lake.

She wasn't at her usual spots... at the various curing cottages and houses, like the Prescott House, where she would read to the patients there or --- if there were children visiting --- she would read to the children... she had a knack with kids and many said she should have been a teacher.

"Maybe in another life," Gundel would laugh at the suggestion.

For the adults she would read murder mysteries. Sara had spent hours listening to Robin read Agatha Christie or Edgar Allen Poe. Another favorite was Robert Louis Stevenson who had wintered in the Baker Cottage in 1887-88. Robin would often read "The Lantern Bearers" since it had been written during that time.

And Robin was not found at home --- where she often was sewing. As a seamstress she was in demand and was able to earn a good living. The past few months were very profitable. At the end of November 1950, there was a big blow down and so many men had made extra money from harvesting the downed trees. All that work led to ripped britches, which Robin made good as new.

After not finding Robin, the big bird headed over to here temporary home --- the Ice Palace that was nearly complete. There was a new motel, The Adirondack Motel, near where they were building the Palace. More and more people were packing up the family and traveling the country. Saranac Lake was now a popular location for recreation. The Adirondack Motel would be a prime location for the visitors during carnival, as well as all the other seasons. The view of the lake was beautiful, and during Winter Carnival it was only a skip across the frozen lake to the Palace made of ice.

Robin Gundel was no where to be found, until she was. There holding a tray of coffee, right next to the burley ice workers, was the 85 year old Robin.

"Do you every sleep?" the snowy owl called out to her friend.

"Sleep? What!??! and let my fine feathered friend sleep in the cold, " laughed Robin.

Sara laughed too and she gave the coffee server a big feathered hug.

Turns out Robin had been serving warm beverages to the Palace Workers for most of the time. Of course much of Sara's searching had been filled with detours. Each place she looked for Robin, she found many of her old friends. Then there were the new friends she met. All of them wanted a big hug and to hear about what the woods looked like from up in the air.

"Spaghetti covered with snow," she would say. Anyone who trekked up Ampersand or Baker Mountain would agree.

One of Sara's new friend 13 year old Michelle Ettevir, who was clearly a fashion maven. In her red dress, she kind of resembled Minnie Mouse. Michelle was all giddy because the 1951 Winter Carnival featured two dances: The Barn Dance and The Snowball Dance. Michelle was planning on attending both, as was Sara. It has often been said that the Wintery Bird liked to shake her tail feathers.

A woman standing nest to Sara and Robin, butted into their conversation: "if we don't get a little help around here there might only be one dance."

When Sara asked why, the woman --- Nancy Strader --- said there are lots of people who want to dance, but it seems not so many of them want to decorate.

Sara looked to Robin and Robin responded with: "Don't look at me, I need to do some sewing for the Rotary --- they have a show this year, their first one."

"Really?" the snowy owl asked, "What are you sewing?

"It's a secret, but it also involves dancing," winked Robin and off she went with her tray of empty coffee cups.

"See," Nancy nodded, "Everyone is busy.. those who do, do, those who don't do, are doo-doo."

Sara had to chuckle, this woman had a way with words and if she was having trouble finding volunteers.... then there was a problem.

Nancy explained that a lot people volunteered and were pulled in many directions during Winter Carnival, but on the other side, where quite a few people who did no volunteering.

"If you are interested, we are decorating tonight at 7 p.m." Nancy informed the big white bird.

"I guess I couldn't say, 'no' " and Sara promised to be there. And when three of the Palace Workers heard that Sara was going to be there, they offered to be there as well.

'Hmmm,' Sara thought, 'what a great way to see all you my friends.'

As Sara flew around Saranac Lake, she made sure everyone knew where she was going next, often to other volunteering opportunities. The best thing about it, when all her friends followed her to the different volunteering, she had a great chance to talk to them. In fact, so much talking went on, most of the helpers didn't even realize they were working, but were actually having fun.

When Sara was at Pisgah making sure the mountain would be ready for the Torchlight Skiing (she did some skiing just to 'test out' the slopes) she ran into the Queen, Natalie Bombard. Not only was Natalie one of the prettiest Queens, she also was the New York State Slalom, Downhill and Cross Country Champ. It was clear this was a very sports oriented Winter Carnival. Along with Natalie, Tom Fina, a great speed skater, was the King and the Carnival Honorary Guest was none other than Edmund Lamy another great speed skater from Saranac Lake.

Edmund had been featured in "Ripley's Believe it or Not" for his record barrel jumping. Not only was he lightning on ice, he was an all around athlete, the Jim Thorpe of Saranac Lake. He excelled in guideboat races, bowling, swimming, basketball and baseball. A professional baseball career was cut short in 1911, when he broke his collar bone.

Now there were volunteers galore in 1951, and all those volunteers felt it only seemed right to go to the events they had worked on. Nancy Strader got her helpers at the Barn Dance, Michelle Ettevir got to dance at two dances and Robin Gundel had the biggest laugh. Robin and all those at the Rotary Show laughed for weeks at the attire of the Rotary Dancers.

After the Rotary Show, the winter bird joked: "And I thought I had skinny legs."

Every event seemed more fun because of the work the volunteers put in and Sara thought some day the volunteers of Winter Carnival should become Royalty. Maybe as a reward for all the work they do in Saranac Lake.

It was clear the little 'Village by the River' would not be the great place it is without those helpers.

2014 - Sara Goes to Town

Sara Goes to Town

It was a brisk Saturday morning and Sara the Snowy Owl was headed south from the arctic north to Saranac Lake. Winter Carnival 1959, was five days away. She hit the Town of Redford and began to follow Route 3, south. She was surprised to see so many cars, all headed toward Plattsburgh.

Sure the cold war was on in full, but Sara didn't think people would be headed to the air force base that had been completed four years before. The large owl recognized several of the cars. Sara decided to head to the little village on the river and find out why so many people were leaving.

As she flew in, she could see her future home was about half finished. That was not unusual since Winter Carnival didn't start until February 12th, what was strange was no one was working on it. Saturdays were usually a big work day on the Ice Palace. During the week people were hustling to make ends meet, though since Trudeau Sanatorium had closed, times were kind of tough in Saranac Lake. Modern pharmaceuticals had eliminated the need for Saranac Lake to be a Tuberculosis Curing Village and Saranac Lake was struggling to see what was next.

The town appeared to be mostly empty. No one was sledding or bustling from shop to shop. Even the post office seemed to be slow, with only a few people picking up packages. She knew times had been a little difficult since the Sanatorium closed, but this seemed to be an extreme. Sara realized she needed to do some investigations.

Sara notices that her friend Bethany was sitting on an ice block watching her daughter Kaylie skate. Kaylie was moving in circles where the workers had cleared the ice, but had not started cutting yet. Swooping down, the snowy owl landed on the ice next to Kaylie who slide right into a big hug.

The white and black feathered bird was known for her hugs. Part because she was so fluffy, but mainly because --- as all the children knew --- there was nothing warmer than a feathery hug from Sara. It seemed like it was only yesterday that Bethany was Kaylie's age. Time flies like an arctic owl.

Bethany explained the reason for the convoy to Plattsburgh: after the air force base had been built, many new stores had sprung up. Now it seemed, it was common for Saranac Lakers to head to stock up on fast food and big box stores.

What about Charlie Green's Market or Gendron's Lumber? Sara asked.

"Hours have been cut," Bethany explained

Sara wondered if the budding hockey star, Philip LaLonde, was still employed. Phil was a smart young man and seemed to have an answer for just about every construction question.

This sadden Sara, she had seen many towns in the Northern United States and in Canada that had all but disappeared when locals stopped supporting the local economy. Eventually all that was left in many quaint towns was a drive to anonymous service in a city about an hour away.

"Hoot Hoot," called a familiar voice. It was ol' Ronnie K, who always amused Sara when he would put on a dress during the Rotary Club Show on Friday of Winter Carnival. The show was a great review of the local talent that ended with the dance. Ronnie informed the feathery bird that the Rotary Club Show theme was "Addie Rondack Goes To Town." Sara thought it was just a bit ironic considering all the business she had just seen was going out of town.

Ronnie suggested that Sara someday be part of the show. Sara didn't say no, she just held out her long wing and said: "Theater!"

It was only after the three girls (Sara, Behthany and Kaylie) were enjoying a hot cocoa at the Hotel Saranac (during Winter Carnival the place was often referred to as "Hotel Sara" since she spent so much time there) that Sara asked Kaylie if she would like to be part of a skit she had in mind.

Kaylie was a bit hesitant at first, but when she found out she would get to be 'Little Sara.' She agreed.

To get ready they practiced and made a costume for Kaylie (Sara was a crafty Owl). But there was plenty of time for the ski and skating races, as well as watching Hockey games.

Then on Rotary Night it was time for Sara's skit. The toastmaster Pat Gast made a few jokes and then announced: "Ladies and Gentlemen, Saranac Lake's very own, Sara the Snowy Owl!"

But it was not Sara who came out dancing, but Kaylie dressed as a smaller snowy owl.

"O I forgot, she went to another cheaper Winter Carnival," the emcee said.

The whole audience gasped, but Kaylie kept dancing. They couldn't believe someone who they had been so loyal to and was their friend, would attend one of the other winter carnivals that had popped up after seeing Saranac Lake's Success.

"Don't worry, we have this young facsimile of Sara... and she is pretty good," continued the host Pat Gast

The announcer --- like all the Rotarians --- was part of the business community and he was in on the joke. He understood how business was hurt when Saranac Lakers took their money elsewhere. "I am sure the money you save with a cheaper Sara... is worth it."

The audience was in a tizzy. Then at the emcee's signal trumpeters Mindy and Jori blared: 'ta ta ta-DAH!' and out jumped Sara, with a "Just Kidding," sign. First there was a sigh of relief, then laughter.

Over the public address system came a song by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters --- it was a new song that had never been heard in Saranac Lake and would be a hit next year when Chubby Checker recorded it. The song was 'The Twist.'

Together Kaylie and Sara flapped some wings and wiggled their tail feathers and twisted across the stage. Soon the whole audience was up and dancing. Though they never received credit for it, that was the start of a dance craze and maybe even some local shopping.

Shop local.

2013 - Inside Out

Inside Out

Sara the Snowy Owl rode the cool western breeze into Saranac Lake. She was early, the 1961 Winter Carnival started on February 9th, but she was a few days early. There was so much to see and do, no way could she squeeze it into the four days of fun. It was her belief that Winter Carnival should last at least a week or more.

Every year more and more activities appealed to the owlet in Sara. She loved the sled derby, skating racing and ski races to the woodsmen's exhibition and long parade.

Every year for the past 14 years, more and more children came to the event. Since 1947, Winter Carnival was held annually and every year there were more and more children. Sara called it the baby thunder because the roar of children could get as loud as thunder. After World War II everyone seemed to want to have a family.

Also, Saranac Lake was getting smarter and smarter. So many of the returning veterans were using the Servicemen's Readjustment Act (also known as: G.I. Bill) to attend school. People were getting so smart that Sara predicted that someday a college would be in the area. Where she didn't know.

One thing was for sure, the folks moved the location of her winter home in 1924 --- the Ice Palace -- to make room for the General Hospital of Saranac Lake. They were thinking ahead. Since then, the Ice Palace was built on the shore of Lake Flower.

Sara was pleased to see that the ice harvesters were already in Pontiac Bay sawing ice. It had been a decade since the men cut the ice to fill the Ice House on Pine Street, since modern refrigeration had replaced the need for ice in the summer, but the ice crew used their skills to make Sara a fortress and a home to live in during Carnival. Though the town had official royalty for the event, the snowy owl always felt like a queen to have such a luminous lodging.

The men working on the Ice Palace were the children and some were even the grandchildren of the first men who had first built a Palace for Sara in 1898. There would be great grand children doing the skating and ski races. Just as the big bird was a friend to the current Palace Workers, she was a friend to all the future palace workers --- and there were a lot of them.

Sara circled the town and noticed a little girl sitting in the Pine Ridge Cemetery. With the owl's keen eyesight, she could see tears rolling down the girl's cheeks and she swooped down to sit next to her. She gave a little feather therapy in the form of a hug and a chance to talk.

The girl -- Susie Norris --- had come to Saranac Lake a year ago when her family moved to the village by the river. Sara was surprised that many of the school kids would tease Susie because she was new to the area.

"They make fun of me because I wasn't born here," she sniffed. "Well, not right here, but in the village."

Sara and Susie were in a special section of the cemetery, where the graves of the Norwegian sailors were located. There were 15 men and one woman buried in the section. They had ended up in Saranac Lake during World War II, after Hitler invaded their country while they were at sea. Many Norwegians took refuge in the United States and several were found to be suffering from tuberculosis when given a medical examination in New York City. From there they were sent to Saranac Lake to cure.

Those who did not survive were buried in the Pine Ridge Cemetery.

Sara knew what it was like to be an outsider, she wasn't from Saranac Lake, though the village now felt like home. She was surprised at Susie's treatment since everyone in Saranac Lake had always treated her like family.

The Snowy Owl did not know what to say, but just warmed the girl with a wing and invited Susie to visit Sara the next day at the Ice Palace for story time.

* * *

Many children of the village were gathered in the Palace to listen to Sara regal them with stories. Their favorite story was the first Ice Palace, a story that the large snowy owl loved to tell as much as the children liked to hear it.

She would tell the young audience how men would hand saw the blocks of ice. The youngster all had seen the gas-powered saw that was used to slice through the ice since before they were born, but before that men cut the huge blocks of ice using saws that were pulled back and forth across Pontiac Bay.
Just as amazing was how the early Palaces were constructed on Slater Hill, at the site of the hospital where most of the children had begun life. Sara would describe how burly men would harness horses to get the blocks up the ill and then stack the blocks with a series of ramps made of snow. The hill seemed more suitable for sliding down not up.

Sara would throw in names of the men who built the structures she would live in. Those names were the names of the little tykes' grandfathers. And their grandmothers were there to serve up coffee and homemade donuts.

The big-feathered friend was just at the point of the story where she had flown into Saranac Lake when Susie arrived.
"Here comes 'No-No' Norris," Davey Dupry.

Though Sara heard the boy, she acted as if she hadn't. The owl was glad that Susie sat down and ignored the boy as well.

"So I flew into Saranac Lake. I was tired and cold. Men were cutting ice and I stopped in to take a look," Sara continued her story. "When I said hello to the mayor perched on the ice, he jumped like someone had poked him with an ice pick!"

All the children laughed.

"You laugh, and so did the mayor, which was good," the owl said.

"Why?" asked little Nancy Burke.

"Because, I was a stranger. You might not know this, but sometimes people who are new to an area are not welcomed," Sara explained. "Had everyone been mean to me, and not offered to build me an Ice Palace for lodging. Had they teased me or chased me off, I would not be here today."

Sara took a dramatic pause and let all the children think about a winter without Sara or Winter Carnival.

"Had that been the case," Sara began again, "I would not have been inside this Palace with my friends, but outside - - - in the cold."

She went on and finished the story, while the children thought about friendship.

At the end she heard Nancy invite Susie to go to the sled derby and was pleased to hear many others ask to tag along. It looked like Sara was going to have a lot of competition in the derby.

2012 - Page Turner Part 2

Page Turner Part 2

Sara left the Saranac Lake Free Library with a wing full of books. Mr. McNeil personally made sure that Sara's library card was updated and she found the books she wanted.

The big Arctic owl put the books in her feet and flew up to the top of Slater Hill. She wanted to read a little, but also think about ways to help bring children into the library. She had promised Mr. McNeil, or Bill as he had asked Sara to call him, she would find a way to draw children into the library. She knew children 'flocked' to her, but flew by the library, and that needed to change.

Sara took one of her books and found a spot in the Ice Palace. In the last few years she was very lucky that the Palace was illuminated. With a secure source of hydropower coming from the Paul Smith's Electric Company, it was easy to light up the blocks of ice so they would dazzle in the day and night. Saranac Lake was always known as the village that the river flowed through, but now the river left some energy behind in the form of electricity as it flowed on.

This was an added bonus for the diurnal owl. Since she was active day and night, she could read when she liked. Though it was relatively early, 8 p.m. darkness had settled over Saranac Lake.

Just as the Snowy Owl was getting into the book she heard a giggle. The big white owl thought she recognized the giggle of a girl who would talk literature with Sara. 'I think that is little Ginger Pharaoh,' Sara thought.

"Whoo whooo whoo," came a little voice. "Who is there?"

"Hmmm," hooted Sara. "There seems to be a seasoning in the air; is it pepper?"

The girl giggled some more.

"No, not Pepper, maybe Jasmine – is that you Jasmine?" asked the feathery friend.

"Whoo whoo whoo," came back the answer.

"No.. that spicy girl is too pungent to be Jasmine," the snowy owl continued to tease the girl. "I think it could only be one person, Ginger Pharaoh."

"Boo!" squealed the girl as she jumped around the corner with a small sheet over her back, flapping like a bird. Sara hugged the young girl, with her expansive wingspan.

Ginger admired the Owl's collection of books. Sara pointed out that anyone in Saranac Lake could have those books; all they had to do is go to the library.

Ginger's face squinted up: "And have to deal with Miss Icepick?"

It took Sara a second, but slowly it dawned on her, Ginger was taking about Missy Blackyard, the library clerk that always treated the snowy owl so unkindly. It was understandable how Ginger felt; after all it was William McNeil, the head librarian, who had asked Sara to find a way to bring more children into the library. It was clear there was a reason why children avoided the library.

"But you love books," Sara reminded the girl. "You are always borrowing mine."

"How about I just buy some of your books?!?!" Ginger asked. Like many of the older children in Saranac Lake, she was able to earn some spending money by helping out the curing patients. Ginger had a job delivering food trays to patients.

That request to buy books gave the wise white owl an idea.

"Hmmm, maybe I will, but you will have to go through my agent," Sara said with a wink.

"You are thinking about selling some of your books?" Ginger asked, "If so, let me be first in line."

Sara and Ginger talked for a bit more, the young girl was telling about her speed skating adventures and the snowy owl talked about her flights up north. Both were captivated because as much as each enjoyed a good story (written or told), they both were great spinners of yarn.

Even after a late night with Ginger, Sara was up early putting her plan into place. First she checked in with Bill and Mary. They liked her idea and each had extra books to donate. In fact Bill said it was time to 'weed out' some of the books that were 'old and rumpled.' The 1913 Winter Carnival took place on January 28, 29 & 30, now the threechums had special plans for the January 31st.

Next Sara flew to the icehouse where Michael C. Meagher let her store some of her possessions, mainly she kept books there since she didn't want to fly the manuscripts back and forth to the tundra. Meagher ran an ice cutting business and had built the Ice Palace this year. Many of the books were the same ones that Missy Blackyard had rejected several years before. Now they would have a chance to circulate again.

All during carnival - at the many events - Sara asked for book donations and like the big white bird everyone seemed to have books that were in need of new readers. Best of all the majority of the books were children books. Sara's requests for donations also advertised the new post-carnival event: "The Library Book Sale."

The new event delayed the settling of the 'coasting contest bet' between Bill, Mary and Sara until late afternoon on the 31st. Bill had coasted the furthest; Sara was second; and Mary was third. Sipping sarsaparillas on the Prescott Perch was also a celebration of the successful book sale. Missy Blackyard ended up eating her words. She had told everyone: "no one would buy books from a library, when any other day they could borrow them for free." But by noon of the sale the library had sold most of the books. Mary suggested a two-for one sale and the extra bargain sent the remaining books flying out the door. When Sara was out of earshot of Missy, she told Bill McNeil: "always measure your foot twice before opening mouth," and they had a good chuckle.

In the end Missy sold so many books to children - earning money for the library - that she actually became a little friendlier, forgetting both that she thought the sale was going to be a flop and her pettiness. It was unclear if it was because of the money the library was bringing in or if Ms. Blackyard enjoyed selling books over loaning them. Just like Missy had changed, so did the children. Now that they could see the library aide could be friendly, the children began to visit the library regularly. Once again Sara had worked some Winter Carnival Magic.

It warmed Sara's feathers when he heard Missy say: "The library should sponsor a children's parade."

Missy might have only been being oddly jocular, but several years later Sara would make the idea a reality.

2011 - Page Turner Part 1

Page Turner Part 1

After a long flight from the arctic, it was so nice to sit on Mary Prescott's Curing Porch on Shepard Ave. Sara the Snowy owl had known Mary for several years. The two were sitting on the front porch of 38 Shepard Avenue enjoying a cup of hot cocoa.

In honor of Sara, Mary had named the residence 'Perch Cottage' because of how the two liked to 'perch' on the porch and watch the village below. Mary's house had just been built in 1908 and she was also maintaining two other buildings. Her biggest adventure was Reception Hospital at the end of Franklin Avenue built in 1905. Saranac Lake was definitely a 'cottage industry,' with many local residents building cottages near their homes so they could care for the TB patients.

Just down the street from Perch Cottage, where the two were enjoying their cocoa, Mary rented 12 Shepard for cure patients — providing a nurse and two maids to help four patients. It was clear to Sara the mettle Mary was made of was pure hospitality.

Sara met Mary briefly in 1898, the first year the snowy owl flew into Saranac Lake, but they spent more and more time together in the years since. Part of this was due to the fact that Mary was so much healthier than when she arrived in the village by the river. After taking the cure, Prescott became the same ball of fire she had been as a kid. By 1911, Mary had also become a pillar of her adopted community, much like the pillars in front of the Reception Hospital. It was easy to say Saranac Lake was a better place because of Mary's presence.

Mary always made sure to have Sara up to the Perch when the two were in town. It was a great place to sit, talk and take in the view of the village. Mary was involved in so many projects in Saranac Lake and Sara loved to hear about them. The newest 'Prescott Project' was Village Improvement Society, which formed the year before. The VIS had a mission to create parks around the village.

From their roost, Mary and Sara could see Lake Flower. They could almost see ice blocks being cut and moved. These blocks would be heading to storage in ice houses for use in ice boxes during the summer, since owl's carnival home was already complete. The ice blocks for Sara's Ice Palace home had been cut from the same area of Lake Flower and hauled up Slater Avenue to what was known as 'Slater Hill.' After Winter Carnival was over Sara's majestic manor would be taken apart and also put into storage. In the summer, when the ice was sold for refrigeration, companies would advertise with the slogan "Put a Palace in your ice box."

Sara was picking out little bits of marshmallows from the cocoa with her beak and chewing them up. The big snowy owl loved how they floated like ice cubes in her hot drink. The two 'girls' were talking about changes in the village. Sara mentioned how she wondered where they would build the Ice Palace next time she visited, since it was clear there would soon be a hospital on Slater hill.

"Seems like building it by Pontiac Bay, where they harvest the ice, would be the smartest thing to do," Mary said.

Sara agreed, adding she could become a mini Chamber of Commerce and welcome people when they came to town.

"Plus, there on the lake is a nice view," Mary pointed out.

"It seems like it would be a great place in the summer for a beach," Sara suggested. "Not that I would wear one of those new bathing suits. Some of them actually show girls' legs above the knees."

Both laughed and wondered if they were a few years younger if they would wear such suits.

Inside Mary's house a grandfather clock chimed three times.

"O, I need to head to the library," Mary said. "The Saranac Lake Free Library was just built last year and it is beautiful. Would you like to come along?"

Sara politely said no, but in a way that Mary had to ask her feathered friend, 'why?'

Sara told her it was a long story, but to make it brief she had gone to the library when it was the "Franklin County Library." She had wanted to donate her collection of H.G. Wells thrillers, but the clerk there turned her away.

"I will never forget. Her name was Missy Blackyard," Sara said. "She said that the library would never accept books from a bird — who knows what condition they might be in."

Sara added that when Missy said "who" she was really being mean, clearly making a joke at the snowy owl's expense.

There was little Mary could say, she also had run into the contemptuous attitude of Missy.

"But you have to meet William McNeil, he is the new head librarian, and a very pleasant man," Mary pleaded. "Besides, if I know my friend Sara, she doesn't hold a grudge."

Sara knew Mary was right and plus it would give the snowy owl a chance to spend more time with her friend, not to mention to meet another person who loved books as much as she did. Sara must have owned about 200 books at the time, not that she had much time to re-read them, since great new books were coming out every day it seemed.

When they arrived at the Saranac Lake Free Library, Sara noticed it had pillars out front just like the Reception Hospital. It should not have been much of a surprise since the architectural firm of Scopes and Feustmann had designed both buildings.

Inside Missy was at the counter typing up cards to put in the card catalog. Missy looked up and snarled.

Mary interrupted, when Missy started to say something: "We have an appointment with Mr. McNeil." With that Missy pointed her nose back to the typewriter.

Once again Mary was right, as cold as Missy had been at the reception area — Mr. McNeil was warm and cordial in his office. Of course the conversation quickly turned to books, then to space invaders. Mary, Sara and Mr. McNeil had all read "The War of the Worlds," and were of different opinions if it was possible for aliens to invade earth.

The talk of books and adventure eventually turned to some of the Winter Carnival events and the three made a small bet on the Coasting Contest. It was decided that the person or bird who coasted the shortest distance would have to buy the sarsaparilla to be shared at Perch Cottage during the fireworks.

Then the conversation turned serious. Bill, as he was now known to Sara, mentioned that the library was in good shape now, with several backers, but he was looking for ways to allow the community to be more invested in the library.

"We want every school boy and girl to feel like the Saranac Lake Free Library is their second home," Bill said looking straight at Arctic owl. He knew she had always gotten along with the children and if there was anyone who could lure young minds to the shelves, it was Sara.

Sara was up to the challenge. She knew there were lots of folks who would help her, but she also knew that many children were afraid of Missy at the counter. What she didn't know was, what the plan would be.

"Do you have an idea?" Mary asked.

"I think I will just wing it," Sara hooted.

2010 - Yee Haw the Rodeo

Yee Haw the Rodeo

It was the kind of weather that Sara loved. Sunny with a tailwind that pushed her down from the Arctic Circle. She was traveling to Saranac Lake again to enjoy the highlight of winter — Winter Carnival. It was February 1960 and the airstream helped push Sara the Snowy Owl to her home way from home — the Ice Palace. Like the canoeist who recreated in the river village during the summer the snowy owl knew very well that it was better to be with the wind, than against it.

She was just flying over Lake Colby when she heard the booming Texan voice.

"Yeeee haw!!!!"

It could only be one person, Beanpie LeDuc. It had been a couple years, but there was no mistake about that voice.

Beanpie had been pretty busy with his new job and Sara wasn't sure when he would be coming to town again. She did know that there was fun to be had by all when he stomped his python boots on the streets of Saranac Lake.

After just a couple days of being around the ex-marine, the fluffy bird was catching herself saying "y'all" and "howdy." More than once, Sara had turned a few heads by doing the Cotton Eye Joe with the long and slim Texan.

Sara first met Beanpie six years earlier. He had come to town partly for Winter Carnival, but mainly to look up some Korean war buddies. He returned the next year, then every couple years since then. He had become a college student with less funds and time, so his visits were a little more random, but always a pleasure. The Texan was a work hard and play hard veteran. Now his job was to work hard for the United States Government.

The snowy owl decided to swing by her home first. The villagers of Saranac Lake always made her feel at home by building a home fit for a queen. They built her a palace and each year the palace workers always designed a new palace, much to Sara's delight. This year the Palace gleamed in the mid-day sun.

"Well there you are," came the Texas drawl, from behind you. "I thought I saw you flying over head. Why didn't you drop down and say 'howdy' to me?"

Sara apologized, but said she wanted to get settled. She then wrapped her wings around Beanpie and gave him a big hug.

"This 'shure' is a pretty use of lake water," Beanpie said pointing to the walls of Sara's temporary home. "What the heck — pardon my language — but what is that?"

Beanpie was pointing to a large block of ice and frozen inside was a fish.

"Ain't that something you don't see every fact in Texas you never see that," Beanpie said with a laugh. "In fact, this is more ice than I see in a year.

Sara explained to the cowboy that the Ice Palace Workers would often find blocks with fish in them and put them up around eye level so if Sara needed a little snack she would have one.

The Texan found that about the funniest thing he had ever heard and laughed for a good 10 minutes.

The two partners did some catching up. Sara learned that Beanpie had graduated from college and now was working for the U.S. Government as an engineer, for some organization that Sara didn't quite understand. The name of the agency sounded like Nazzah and what ever it was, Beanpie said they were going to put a man on the moon. It's sounded crazy to Sara, but most of his stories did and of course most of Beanpie's stories were actually true.

Soon it was time for Beanpie to skid-addle, he told Sara that he was going to have a beverage with Willard Hanmer and discuss the possible purchase of a guideboat. He told Sara that he had always wanted to come to Saranac Lake to do some canoeing, or — maybe if he owned a guideboat — he might do some rowing. Especially in the summer when it is 'hot as blazes in Texas.' Also, his buddies down at the VFW were saying they could beat him with one arm behind their back. If there was one sure way to get the Texan cowboy to the Adirondacks, it was with a challenge.

Beanpie added that Mr. Hanmer was getting up in years, but if you wanted a decent guideboat, he was the man to see. Beanpie always liked to go with a winner!

Before Beanpie left, the crafty snowy owl was able to rope the cowboy into helping her with the pre-parade festivities on Saturday. Sara liked to bring the kids together at the palace for a get together just before the parade started.

The next night, at the Friday Night Rotary Show, Beanpie and Sara sat together and the cowboy told her that he had a special surprise for her. She thought it was a new dance step he was going to teach her at the Carnival Dance, like maybe the Texas Two-Step, but didn't give it much thought.

The next day — Parade Day — Sara was just waking up when she heard some commotion outside the palace. At first she thought it was kids coming early, but when she looked out she saw Beanpie. She wondered what he was doing up so early, then she thought maybe he hadn't gone to bed yet.

Next to Beanpie was a stack of ice cubes, but they were actually arranged in the shape of an Ice Palace, much like the one built for Sara.

"What in tarnation are you doing?" Sara asked and realized she had started to talk like Beanpie again.

"My surprise, of course," the cowboy explained.

Then Sara noticed that each ice cube had a penny frozen inside. She asked how he had managed that trick.

"I have a few friends in the restaurant business who allowed me to use their freezer and some trays for a night," He explained, then added with a laugh: "The hard part was herding all those cubes over to the lake."

In a confessional tone Beanpie whispered, "There are more, but they are hidden all around. I've invented The Snowy Owl Ice Cube Hunt, kind of like an Easter Egg Hunt. I think the kids will love it."

After Sara had stood there — slack beaked — for a few moments, Beanpie picked up an ice cube from the miniature palace and asked, "penny cube for your thought?"

Sara laughed and said, "You crazy cowboy, let's get this rodeo on the road." Then she gave Beanpie a big slap on the back, followed by a snowy owl hug.

2009 - A Pirate's Dream

A Pirate's Dream

As soon as Sydney hit the water, he started inhaling the fresh Adirondack air. It was more like a gasp. His boots were filling with water and while he was breathing in, he was starting to shiver.

Even though it was 27 degrees, a fairly balmy day for February in Saranac Lake, the water was still ice cold. It was great palace building weather — in the 20's during the day, but dipping to sub-zero at night.

Sydney's arms spun as he worked toward the shore. Sydney wasn't sure if the rest of the Ice Palace Workers were laughing at the fact that he had been bumped into Pontiac Bay with Morgan's crane operation or if they found it funny how he was swimming like a St. Bernard to get out of the water.

Morgan had just nudged Sydney a bit with the crane as Syd leaned over the edge of the ice mass, with a steel pole he had been trying to work an ice block loose and over the edge he went. No one was surprised. Morgan and Sydney were constantly playing jokes on each other. In fact, Sydney was regretting that he didn't take advantage of his time at the crane levers earlier in the day.

"Arrrgh thars she blows," Morgan said, as if he was a sailor, when Sydney spit out water. Morgan's laughter could be heard throughout the industrious village that celebrated winter with a now yearly carnival.

It was 1964 and there was good news, Trudeau Institute was going to be opening it's doors again, this time on the shores of Lower Saranac. Trudeau was going to continue as a research facility. It had been 10 years since the Trudeau Sanitarium closed it's door. American Management Association had purchased the 66-acre Saranac Lake campus from the Trudeau Foundation in 1957 after the Institute moved to the end of Algonquin Avenue.

Syd pulled himself out of the lake and walked straight over to the fire the workers were using to keep warm. Sara the Snowy Owl had hopped over to the fire and was throwing more wood on the blaze. She felt bad that she was one of the first to laugh at Sydney's mishap, especially since Syd always worked so hard to build the Ice Palace — where Sara stayed when she came to Saranac Lake for Winter Carnival.

Fortunately Sydney was dressed only in his wool trousers and a t-shirt. With the sun out and the relatively warm temperatures; the work needed to get the blocks to the conveyor belt had caused him to work up a sweat. Ironically he had just been thinking about going home to take a bath. After working all day on the Palace, a warm bath helped ease his tired muscles. This was a different kind of bath.

This was a different kind of bath.

"Aye Mately, I's hopes you have your land-legs back soon," called Morgan as he walked away.

Morgan's penchant for speaking as a sailor had to do with his favorite book — written by Robert Louis Stevenson, a one-time visitor Saranac Lake. One of Stevenson's books was always on Morgan's nightstand, but his favorite tome was "Treasure Island."

Sara flapped her wings to stoke the fire and help Sydney warm up. Syd was angry, but it seemed he was less mad about his entrance into the polar bear club and frustrated he could never match Morgan's practical jokes.

"I just wish I could really get him with a really good joke," Sydney said to no one in particular, but Sara was the only one around to hear.

"If I could think of something, I would be glad to help you," Sara told him. Just as she said that the Harrietstown Townhall clock began to chime. It rang three times and Sara realized she was late. She was one of the official welcomers and she needed to be at the Townhall at 3:30 p.m.

Since 1953, celebrity Kings and Queens had been recruited to preside over Winter Carnival. This year the King was going to be singer and entertainer Julius LaRosa and the Queen was to once again to be Miss Rheingold. As the name implied, she was the representative of the beer company. An election was held each year to pick Miss Rheingold, this year the winner was an attractive blond named Celeste Yarnell. As it would turn out, she was the last Miss Rheingold to be elected. For the last few years one of the duties of Miss Rheingold was also to be Winter Carnival Royalty.

Sara was quite impressed by Celeste and quickly learned she was an animal lover, so they became fast friends. Sara gave Celeste a tour of the town and when they came to the Ice Palace that was now complete — there was Sydney still trying to warm up by the fire.

An explanation was required. One thing led to another and Celeste told Sydney that if she could help him get back at Morgan she would. It was then that Sara and Sydney learned the reason why Celeste entered the Miss Rheingold contest was so she could win a trip to Hollywood.

"I have always dreamt of being an actor," Celeste said.

"Dreamt...dream..." Sara hooted, "That's it."

Sara revealed her plan.

The next day was many things. There was love in the air because it was St. Valentines Day and there was joy because Winter Carnival had begun. And there was the plot and it thickened. Sydney did his own acting, he played the part of an man who was not mad about being nudged into a frigid lake, or a man that had a plan. That was act one.

Though Morgan was a little bewildered and suspected something was up, he just thought that Sydney had accepted that Morgan was the king of pranksters. He didn't know the Queen of pranksters laid in wait.

That night, act two unfolded. Miss Rheinhold made liberal use of her namesake and lead Morgan on a night of revelry.

Act three was when the fun started. Sara, Celeste and Sydney covered their heads and faces with bandanas and they were clothed like pirates. They slipped into Morgan's house. They could tell by the snoring — that sounded like a hibernating bear — that Morgan was asleep. They tied him to his bed.

"Morgan," screamed Celeste in a low throaty voice. The shades were pulled and it seemed a nor'eastern was coming through, because Sara was flapping her wings.

The tables were turned and the joker screamed with fright: "Who is it?!?"

"It is me, Lady Killigrew, and your ship is sinking," Celeste growled.

"What?!?" Morgan was truly frighten.

At that point Sara and Syd made howling noises.

Morgan didn't know where he was and struggled to get out of bed, but the straps held him tight. He couldn't figure out how he had gotten on a ship, but it was clear he couldn't jump off.

"Help me," pleaded Morgan.

"Here comes a wave over starboard," Celeste yelled and at that point Sydney threw a bucket of ice water on Morgan.

"Here comes a wave over starboard," Celeste yelled and at that point Sydney threw a bucket of ice water on Morgan.

It is still a mystery how the Village of Saranac Lake slept through Morgan's bestial wail, but for the most part they did. After he screamed, he fainted. That gave Sydney a chance to untie Morgan and the three thespians slipped out of the house.

Morgan told no one of his nightmare, though most figured he knew what happened. And every time Celeste appeared in a movie or on TV — especially Star Trek (because it was Morgan's favorite show) — Sydney would say: "boy, that woman can act."

2008 - Sara's Gift

Sara's Gift

Steam puffed from the train that waited for it's 'freight' to be loaded on. It was late at night, the last run out of the village.

The train that was waiting to leave, was one of the two railroad companies that were serving Saranac Lake in 1915. Between the Delaware and Hudson and the Chateaugay Railroads there were 18 to 20 passenger trains a day.

Saranac lake was a prosperous community and for most it was happy times. Especially on the first day of February 1915. Winter Carnival would start the next day and run until Thursday. There were so many events it was a wonder they all could fit into a three-day event.

The Ice Palace was all set. To the locals of course, it was referred to as Sara's House as much as it was called the Ice Palace. Ever since Sara the Snowy Owl had been visiting Saranac Lake, the villagers had built her a shelter with the blocks of ice harvested from Lake Flower. As long as it was cold enough — and it was always cold enough — the hardly souls of the small town could make extra money by cutting and storing blocks of ice. These blocks would then be used in the summer. People would put ice in their ice boxes to keep their perishables chilled.

Since no one needed the blocks of ice in February, why not make a home for their feathery friend. The Snowy Owl would have been content with a couple walls to block the wind, but the Ice Palace Workers 101 worked hard to make a Palace that glistened in the sun and protected the owl at night.

Katee would help with the creation Sara's home. Though she never actually mashed the slush that was the mortar or moved the blocks of ice around, she helped in smaller ways to make sure the IPW 101 were content. She often brought them vacuum flasks of coffee, so they could warm up and kept awake during the long hours of moving around frozen water. She would also contact the newspaper to put out notices for volunteers.

Since 1884, most of the people who came to Saranac Lake were like Katee, coming for treatment of TB or 'consumption' as her parents called it. It was in '84 that Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau started his curing cottage and the Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium. (No one knew it at the time, but the 1915 Winter Carnival was going to be the last winter festival for Dr. Trudeau. His productive life would end later that year — also a victim to TB. In his honor the ACS would become the "Trudeau Sanatorium.")

Many other visitors had been attracted to the little village that the Saranac River flowed through, just like Sara the Snowy Owl. During the summer there were many famous people who had made Saranac Lake a fashionable resort.

It was one of those famous visitors who came to Saranac Lake that made the name famous enough for Katee's family to know of the village. In 1887-1888, Robert Louis Stevenson wintered in Saranac Lake. So even before the first Winter Carnival in 1898, people knew about the hospitable village up north. Sara's first trip was in 1899 when the tradition of building an ice-block residence began.

Katee waited at the Union Depot for the last train to depart. She didn't know many of the people on the train and they could not wave back, but she felt someone should say goodbye. The last train of the day transported the people who did not have a successful cure in Saranac Lake. On this day it seemed even sadder, since it was the day before Winter Carnival.

"Why are you here, and so sad" asked Sara and Katee jumped so high you would have thought the girl could fly as easily as Sara.

"You startled me," Katee said as she leaped into the warm folds of Sara's hug. "We have been looking for you for the last couple days. The Palace is all ready for you."

Sara told her that she had flown by the Ice Palace and it was as beautiful as ever. Adding that even though she was tired from her flight from the Arctic Circle, she wanted to make a quick rounds of the village and Sanitarium to check up on everyone and thank th

em for thei

r hard work. Like the nurses at the ACS, she could offer up her own comfort.

The owl could see not all was well with Katee. Katee explained how she had not been feeling well and many of her friends were on the train that just left the station. That those friends had not survived their battle with the consumption. It was not the first time that Sara had happened upon a sad little girl in Saranac Lake. Even though many people were able to survive TB with the cure, many did not. The one thing that was true, your chances were better in Saranac Lake than in any big industrial city where the air was thicker than Paul Smith's venison chili.

Sara presented a proposal to the young lady: "I must give you a gift that will make me richer, but it will take me several days."

And the girl was confused, she wanted to know you could give someone something and it would make you wealthier, but she did not ask for an e

xplanation — not then at least. But all through Winter Carnival, Katee would ask about her gift and Sara would fend off the request with a story about a fun time the two of them had had. She would parlay that story with some antics at another Winter Carnival event. Soon the girl was having so much fun and thinking about the 'gift' she almost forgot about her melancholy.

During the Children's Fancy Dress Skating Carnival Katee asked for the millionth time: "So what is this whosibob you are going to give me."

"Are you having fun?" Sara asked, knowing Katee's smile was an answer in itself.

"Yes and I will never forget it," Katee responded. "Is that my gift?"

"In part, but really you are the gift," Sara explained. "I have many memories of great times with you and like all Winter Carnival memories, they will live on forever. The trick is to not stop them from happening by worrying about tomorrow. Let today be the memory we make for tomorrow."

2007 - Like a Teenager

Like a Teenager

When Sara flew into the Village by the river, she knew that Saranac Lake was enjoying the fruits of the baby boom, just like the rest of the country. It was customary for Sara to loop around the village a couple times. She did this for a several reasons. First, she liked roam around the town to look for her many friends.

In the last few years the number of young friends seemed as though it had doubled. When she swooped in over Baker Mountain she noticed there were diapers on clotheslines throughout the village. On the playgrounds there were kids of all ages running around. Sara checked out a couple sledding hills in Saranac Lake and there were lines waiting to carom down the hills. It seemed as though there were more kids than adults.

There were many reasons to be happy (and perhaps a reason for all the diapers on the line). It was 1958 and the Korean Conflict had ended five years ago. Sara saw a lot of veterans going in and out of the VFW club on the Harrietstown Road. It was good to have the 'boys' back, though after war it is hard to think of a soldier as a 'boy.' The Snowy Owl understood wars happened, but she wished they would happen less often; finding it hard to see what they solve.

Having the soldiers back was a good indication that Sara's home, the Ice Palace, would be as big as ever. That was the main reason she flew around town — she liked to know what kind of home the 'Ice Palace Workers' had created. Each year it was different, but each year a thing of beauty. She was glad there was a place to sleep that was away from the winter wind, after a night of going to all the festivities — from the Rotary Variety Show to the Carnival Ball. She also planned to check out the Dog Sled Races.

The IPW did a wonderful job and she roosted on the top of the Palace to enjoy the view of the Village by the River. Saranac Lake was a beautiful town.

Sara's view was interrupted when she heard the sounds of a young girl crying. The girl was sitting on one of the discarded ice blocks next to the Ice Palace entrance. Sara recognized the girl as a friend she met during the 1953 Winter Carnival. The girl's name was June, but Sara had nicknamed her 'Little Bird.' Back in '53 the girl was eight-years-old and had followed Sara around, flapping her arms trying to be like Sara — so Sara gave her a moniker, 'Little Bird.'

"Little Bird, why so sad?" the Snowy Owl hooted.

The 13-year-old looked up at the Winter Bird and tried to smile.

"Aren't you happy to see me?" Sara asked.

"I am," Little Bird said through her tears, "but you are only here once a year and I have no friends."

No friends, Sara thought, how could she not have any friends? The girl was one of the friendliest kids around. Little Bird had all the qualities you want in a friend: caring, helpful and great sense of good humor. She felt compassion for her friend and gave the young lady a hug.

Sara did some Snowy Owl investigation and asked Little Bird a few questions. She gleaned from the girl's answers that there may be lots of little toddlers around, but there were also a good share of teenagers around. The problem was they ended up doing a lot of baby-sitting and didn't get to see each other much. Since Winter Carnival was the time of the year that many adults were able to break the winter doldrums with all the festivities, it mean more baby-sitting for the teenagers.

The Snowy Owl knew she would have to rectify this situation before the end of Carnival, but now she had an emotional teenager wrapped in her wings. She decided to teach Little Bird a dance she had learned a few years back. Fortunately Little Bird was your typical teenager and had a new transistor radio with her. Sara and the girl took the radio into the Ice Palace. When the transistor was turned up to full volume the music danced off the walls of Sara's temporary shelter.

Sara knew three or four square dances that some Swedish owls had taught her. She had memorized them enough to be a caller and dancer. She took Little Bird's hand and taught her how to do a square dance. Sara knew it would be hard to stay sad while do-si-do-ing.

Pretty soon there were about 20 kids of various ages swinging their partner around the Palace. It was about then that an Elvis Presley song came on the radio and the kids were rocking in the Palace. At first Sara thought the song was called "Ice House Rock," but realized it was from Elvis' movie, "Jailhouse Rock." That is when Sara realized what needed to happen.

The clever Snowy Owl scheduled the dance for the afternoon of the last day of the Carnival. At first a lot of the parents didn't want let the party happen, but Sara explained the dance would be in the afternoon. She winked at the parents and told them that after a week of events they would be glad to have a little nap. She added that it would be at the same time that most of the Village's toddlers would be napping, so everyone could be rested up for the last night of Winter Carnival.

Sara found an auditorium to have the teen party and it seemed like all the teenagers in the Adirondacks were there. The party started with a little glitch. All the kids had arrived with their winter boots on but Janitor John wouldn't let them wear boots on the floor. It was agreed that everyone, but Sara, would take off his or her boots (it was a sock hop after all).

It was a great time to be a teenager, and it that was true for Sara as well. Technically she was a teenager, because if you divided 65 by 13 — Sara was a teenager times five!

Little Bird had a big turn around. She was dancing every dance and smiling from ear to ear. It was then that Sara realized that the teenager wasn't really missing all the teenagers, but one boy in particular.

Sara was not one to stand in the way of love. She could tell that all the teenage fun was a sign that the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival was still the place to be in February.

2006 - Sara, Light as a Feather

Sara, Light as a Feather

"How exciting," Sara thought as she flew into the tiny village by the river. There was her home away from home – the Ice Palace – gleaming in the sun. It was up on the hill and sparkled like a diamond on top of a scepter.

A scepter fit for a king or queen,' Sara mused to herself.

The twenties were roaring like a bonfire at the skating shed near Petrova School. People were enjoying prosperity like never before and believed it would never end. They were wrong, but you couldn't convince anyone in Saranac Lake. The village continued to help people curing with tuberculosis. All the residents had work to do and a paycheck to collect. But work never got in the way of having fun and that included winter activities like skating, skiing, snowshoeing and even horse racing.

In spite of how hot as the twenties were roaring or how hot a skating shed bonfire could be, the 1923 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival was all about ice. And not just because of the Ice Palace that served as Sara's home. In fact, when people looked back on the event that took place the last two days of January and first day of February 1923, they often referred it as the 'Skating Carnival.' This was because it was the year that the Adirondack Gold Cup Speed Skating Races were held.

Speed skating wasn't the only kind of fun on ice planned for the winter festival. There was the popular barrel jumping and fancy skating. When she had been in Saranac Lake for a couple hours, the big wintry bird found out that there were also rumors that curling competitions would return to the mid-winter celebration. Hospitality and competition were at home in Saranac Lake as Sara the Snowy Owl was during her mid-winter visits.

There is a saying in Saranac Lake: 'happiness is in the air." People felt that breathing the air in Saranac Lake brought happiness, they also felt the air brought good health. The air was part of the reason people came to cure for tuberculosis, though the main reason was the care they received from Dr. Trudeau.

Just about any event that took place in Saranac Lake seemed to be bigger, especially during Winter Carnival, because when visitors came to the village, they were always treated to the best in hospitality. When you feel good, you perform better than if you don't and you often get better by feeling good.

The visitors who had fun in the winter, often returned to the area in the summer to listen to the hoots of Sara's distant cousins – - – the great horn owls. Ironically, as Sara migrated south for carnival, the horned owls are headed towards the Catskills.

As the arctic air of Canada became too cold, Sara took off to the balmy climate of Saranac Lake. Of course balmy to Sara was any temperature around zero degrees Fahrenheit. Even as the temps dropped to minus 20 the great white owl was comfortable. Sara liked it cold; in fact it is why the Ice Palace was the perfect home. It provided her shelter from the wind, but made it so she wouldn't get too hot. Her thick plumage of feathers made her well suited for sleeping nestled against the blocks of ice.

Because it was too hot in the summer, Sara never came down to meet all the famous people who only came to Saranac Lake in summer, like Albert Einstein or Calvin Coolidge (who used the White Pine Camp as his summer White House in 1926). The snowy owl was quite a politician and could have influenced some of the brightest minds, if she only had a chance.

Sara was a tireless worker too. Just as she had become a famous 'sweeper' for many curling teams, she was sought after to clear the ice for the skating competitions. Between skating events she would help clear the ice chips. All she had to do is flap her mighty wings and she could blow the ice to the side of the track.

Like all good workers, Sara liked to kick back and relax. During the horse racing she thought she was going to do just that. She was very excited to see that her friend the high school English teacher was going to ride her horse, Stevenson (that she had named after Robert Louis). She told Sara that she was racing to get the prize money so she could pay off the mortgage to the schoolhouse.

If that wasn't enough hullabaloo, there was the added fact she had to race against Jimmie K. Rupps, who held the deed to the property. He was riding his horse Foreclosure (named after his favorite activity) and was expected to win, but what is expected doesn't always happen.

As the horses closed in on the finish line, Foreclosure loomed ahead of Stevenson. Sara couldn't stand the excitement and flew up to Nora. She knew Nora and Stevenson would be disqualified if she pushed the teacher or the horse, so she stayed back hooting words of encouragement. As they neared the finish line, Sara's left wing brushed the hind flank of Stevenson and the wisp of her plumage startled the horse. The brush of a feather caused Nora's steed to take flight. The two horses were neck and neck to the finish.

Some say that it was unfair to tickle the horse, others said it was probably more a distraction than a help and even more thought Nora would have won regardless, but win she did!

Even though Stevenson won by a nose, people who saw the race joked that Nora's horse won by a feather – - a ticklish snowy owl feather.

When she made her final mortgage payment, Nora gathered up all the loose owl feathers from the Ice Palace (after Sara returned to the North) and made a feather boa to wear – - – just to taunt Rupps. When news of Nora's fashion statement, complete with the downy punctuation, hit the papers, all the fashionable young women of the roaring 20's took to wearing feather boas.

Of course, Rupps being Rupps spent the next two months threatening everyone in the village, including the snowy owl, with lawsuits. He even was heard to say it was a communist plot since it had been Sara's 'left wing' that brushed Stevenson. It went on until the North Elba judge, James Roggers (who held jurisdiction over where the race took place), put an end to the foolishness. Roggers told Rupps that, by being a banker, he had all the money he needed and that as judge he wasn't going to let Rupps sue birds, because bees were next and soon everyone would be stung.

2005 - Sara Sweeps the Village Off Its Feet

Sara Sweeps the Village Off Its Feet

It had been about two years since Sara the Snowy Owl's dear friend Dr. E.L. Trudeau died. The sanitarium had become the "Trudeau Sanatorium" in Dr. Trudeau's honor, and though everyone missed E.L., the curing hospital was just as warm and caring as before. Many people were happy that the Sanatorium continued to be prosperous, yet most were sad that the good doctor was not hanging his 'shingle' out on Church Street, and of course he was missed at St. Luke's on Sundays.

World War I had been brewing, but the United States would not enter into the war until April. There was lots of trouble in the world, and Sara wondered if this war would be the last war and – more importantly – how would it end.

Yes, 1917 was a curious time for Winter Carnival; it was an in-between year. Much of the rest of the world was thinking about war or in war. But for all the things that can and do go wrong in the world, having a Winter Carnival on the weekend between January and February was a nice break from the melancholy of the world. Not to mention that coming to Saranac Lake has always been a breathtaking delight for everyone, be they human or snowy owl!

Sara would call her visits to the Adirondacks "the trip to Ah's." She picked the phrase up from her friend Elizabeth Hoxie. Elizabeth was known to say "Ah-wesome" or just "ahhhhh" when she mentioned the views in Saranac Lake. This was appropriate since one of her favorite stories was The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Elizabeth, who was 10 years old at the time, liked Winter Carnival because she could go in Sara's home – the Ice Palace – and play "oz" with her friend Emily. Elizabeth always made her play the part of Aunt Em and the good witch.

This was going to be a Carnival that sparkled because of all the ice, both events-wise and Ice Palace-wise. Saranac Lake worked extra hard when it knew Sara was in town. With Sara around, the handsaws were jumping on Pontiac Bay to ensure she would have a proper Ice Palace to sleep in.

It wasn't just the Ice Palace that was making Saranac Lake sparkle with ice crystals. So much was going on this year and Sara was glad she made the trip from the Great North. There were bobsled and single sled races; there were hockey matches; Baker Mountain had an ice run that zipped participants to Moody Pond; the International Amateur Outdoor Speed Skating Championships was scheduled; also, part of the ice fun was a curling competition; for the adults there was a Fancy Dress Ice Carnival; and, best of all, there was an Ice Carnival just for children.

The Fancy Dress part of the festivities was keeping local seamstress Sully busy stitching up some excitement. She was making dresses for the nurses at the D. Ogden Mills "Training School for Nurses." Many a pretty young lady was looking for the opportunity to spin the light fantastic.

Since Saranac Lake has always been known for its health and beauty, it was natural to have nurses training in the village. Not only were they participating in the dances, the student nurse coordinator Carolynn Mark had put together a team for the curling competition. Carolynn asked Sara to be on the team called The Ice Whipples.

Sara protested at first, pointing out that with her wings it would be impossible to 'deliver' a curling stone go down the ice. Carolynn winked and said she could help out by just being there. She would inspire the team.

On the day of the competition, Sara jazzed up the competition by wearing a Hawaiian shirt with little bears on it. She made up some cheers for the team like: "boola hoola, laugh and giggle, no one can beat the Whipples!" Sara's presence on the team must have helped because the ladies made it to the final round.

The Whipples were tied with the Trudeau Cousins in the finals, and it looked like sure victory for the "Cousins." The "Whipples" were down to their last toss with the score even, but the "Cousins" had a stone right on the center tee line. Worst of all – it had started to snow. Susie Janczak delivered her 'rock,' but with the snow on the 'sheet' it didn't seem like it would make it to the target.

Out of the crowd Sara quickly swooped down and – by flapping her wings – began to clear the snow from the ice. The curling stone began to pick up speed and bumped against the Cousins' stone. Just as the Whipple's stone kissed against the Cousins' stone the crowd let out a loud "ahhhhh!" Both stones stayed keen on the middle.

It was a fantastic toss by Susie, but everyone agreed that once again Sara had "swept Saranac Lake off its feet." The officials decided – because of the snow that was coming down and the fact everyone wanted to get dressed for the dance – to let the match end in a tie. Every year since 1917, if there was curling, teams sought out Sara to be their 'sweeper,' perhaps changing the way curling would be played forever more.

2004 - Sara's Playhouse

Sara's Playhouse

Sara the Snowy Owl was a bit of a joker and that is why the children always liked her. From the very beginning, they always wanted to touch her soft feathers or give her a hug. Since Sara love children as much as they loved her, she was always glad to oblige them with a big, full-winged embrace.

So it wasn't unusual for her to stop at schools when she first arrived in the Saranac Lake area. When she looked up her young friend Joseph Firo, she teased him about being a Yankees fan. Joseph was also a joker and would tease Sara right back. He was quite proud of the Yankees, especially since they had just won the World Series the previous summer over the New York Giants. Sara bet him a soda pop that the boys in pinstripe wouldn't repeat in 1924.

Once, when Sara was talking to her friends Summer and Meadow, Joseph said: "Look Snowy and Summer separated by a Meadow," and he laughed and laughed. Of course Sara had the last laugh that year because the Yankees were four years away from their next World Series victory. But it was all in fun and everyone knows the Yankees have won enough World Series.

So Sara flew in from the North in early February and decided to stop into Lake Clear School. The children of the Lake Clear were very much excited about the coming Winter Carnival. Part of the excitement was because they were going to march in the Winter Carnival Parade. There was a rumor that this was going to be one of the biggest parades ever, with 80 floats expected. The students knew all their family and friends would be watching them along the roadside.

The children were also excited because the school librarian, Emily Mugino, was telling the children a story about Sara the Snowy Owl. Most of the children had heard about how friendly Sara was from their older brother and sisters. A few had even seen Sara fly over the school the previous year. So, during story hour, they were excited to hear tales about the great white bird.

Miss Mugino was reading a book to the children about snowy owls, to get the children enthused about the 1924 Carnival that was set for February 12-16. Just as Miss Mugino held up a picture of a winter owl, Sara landed outside of the library window.

"Can everyone see the owl?" Mugino asked, Sara played librarian and give the children a 'shush' sign with her wing and smiled. Then she did a funny little dance, pretending to be a ballerina – - all behind Miss Mugino's back.

Miss Mugino was a little perturbed when all the children began to giggle. Once Sara had the kids laughing and she continued her pirouettes until Miss Mugino figured out someone was behind her. Fortunately Sara had arrived just before recess and the children could go out and play with her for a while.

After classes resumed, Sara headed for Saranac Lake. Ironically, when she arrived at the Village by the river, she ran into Summer and Meadow, whom were moping outside of the Berkeley Hotel, in the center of Saranac Lake.

The two girls told them they were sad because the wanted to act in a play, but there was nothing going on in the debts of winter. They had acted in school plays and were thinking it would be fun to do a play during Winter Carnival, but they couldn't find anyone to direct.

Sara thought for a moment, but she couldn't think of anyone who could direct the play either. It was getting late, so Sara told the girls she would try to find someone, but wasn't sure if that was possible. One of the problems with Winter Carnival was, with so many things to do, everyone was busy.

Sara flapped her wings and took flight to her temporary home of ice blocks built by the IPW 101.

Just before Sara was about to fall asleep in the Ice Palace, she heard someone shuffling outside of her abode. She expected it to be a couple; perhaps Mardi and Andrew, the couple Sara had married the year before.

It was very common for couples to steal away to Sara's Ice Palace home and sneak a kiss or two. Everyone was aware of the romance that floated around Sara. It floated around her like the breath of her friend, the great guide Paul Smith, when he was chopping wood in February!

In 1925 it was when the villagers were still building the Ice Palace up on the hill. Anyone who wanted to visit Sara's Home, needed to walk up the road near the Village Hospital. But it wasn't young lovers outside the Palace; it was a scraggly character that Sara thought was a vagabond.

"Excuse me, may I ask who you are?" Sara asked politely.

The stranger told Sara that he was just out for a walk and that his name was Clark. At the time, Sara didn't know it, but Clark was part of a group called National Vaudeville Artists. He was in Saranac Lake looking for some land to build a 100-bed curing hospital for stage performers with tuberculosis.

Clark was a little befuddled and looked quite a site with his hair blowing in all four directions of a compass.

Sara wasn't sure if that was how he always looked or if seeing a giant snowy owl living in an Ice Palace might have caused the strange hairdo.

He apologized for his intrusion. Clark was a bit of a curmudgeon, but he was a likable cuss. He told Sara he had been restless in the small town and had taken a late night walk to relax. He mentioned how he missed the theatre he used to work in.

"You worked in a theatre?" Sara asked, her mind spinning like the lariat a rodeo performer – - she had never met a theatre person she didn't like.

Clark admitted that he did, but he found it odd to be discussing such things with a giant snowbird. Little did he know, Sara was already planning his future. *

His future was not just with the NVA curing hospital, which would be completed in 1930 (at a nearby site), but the odd, grouchy man would soon be part of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival. And he would never be far from the theatrical productions that he loved.

Sara was able to convince Clark to share his theatre knowledge and expertise with all the children of Saranac Lake and soon the arts were as much a part of Winter Carnival as the many sporting events!

* Sara bet Clark she could comb his hair without touching him and Clark quickly took on the bet. Sara then flapped her wings twice and the breeze the wings caused laid every hair in place.

2003 - Sara Finds Love

Sara Finds Love

When Sara the Snowy Owl flew into Saranac Lake in 1953, there was something special in the air. She was excited, as always, about her visit to the friendly mountain town of Saranac Lake. Winter Carnival was being held in mid-February, with all kinds of fun, including a nighttime parade through the Village. There is nothing an owl likes better than nighttime activities and with a parade involved, Sara would surely be there, soaring on her wings.

Something else was up, another kind of excitement blew in on that winter carnival wind. Sara was just as excited about the fact that she was going to be in charge of marrying a couple, in front of her Ice Palace home!

Sara had received a letter from a woman named Mardi Enfant. Mardi and her fiance Andrew Ron Dax were planning to be married on February 14, 1953. That was Valentine's Day, a very romantic day indeed. Of course Mardi came from a very romantic family, which is why she had an unusual name.

Mardi's mom, Carol, had met her father, Pierre – a big strong lumberjack, at a Mardi Gras Dance in 1920. Her parents fell in love at that was love at first sight. They 'courted' for two years and were married in the summer of 1923. When the happy couple had their first child, it was a girl and Carol named her Mardi in honor of the night fell she in love with Pierre.

The letter that Sara received told of all that romance and asked the Snowy Owl if she would perform the wedding ceremony. Mardi told how she loved Andy and how they wanted to be married on the last day of Winter Carnival, in front of the Ice Palace.

Sara was excited and wrote back right away. Mardi and Sara exchanged many letters, until they were best friends. In December of 1952, Sara left her home in the Arctic to visit Saranac Lake and meet both Mardi and Andy. She liked them as much in person as she did in letters. She found out that Mardi had gotten the village to give Sara permission to perform the marriage ceremony at Winter Carnival.

Sara arrived early on February 10, so she could spend time with Mardi and Andy. They had a good time, but she could see that Andy was kind of nervous. Even though he dearly wanted to marry Mardi, he was uncomfortable in large crowds. Getting married in front of the Ice Palace, he knew, meant lots of people would be there.

He was right. Many people come from all over the North Country to see the beautiful Ice Place where the Snowy Owl lives. When word spread there was going to be a wedding, too, it created even more excitement. The town planned for more visitors on the afternoon when the great white snowy owl was to perform a marriage ceremony.

That night everyone was thrilled to see a Winter Carnival Parade under the brightly lit street lamps. There was much merriment as the parade traveled under the sparkle street lights in the gentle snowfall. The courtiers sang, and the Winter Carnival King and Queen danced the Hokey Pokey in the street. Snowy soared silently with a big smile beside the parade. It was a bustling winter night. Afterward, Mardi and Andy said good night and went home to get some sleep.

The next day everyone went to the Ice Palace for the big wedding. All the famous people from the parade, the King and Queen, the courtiers and even the famous photographer Kim Smith. When you added in all the family from the bride and groom, you had quite a crowd.

As the Harrietstown Town Hall Clock tower struck two, Mardi was still not there. Everyone was wondering where the bride might be. Andy was upset about waiting as he had been standing on a big block of ice. He was not the first or last groom to get cold feet, but he thought his toes would fall off. He was afraid that Mardi might not show up and all the people standing there would know that his beautiful bride had stood him up with cold feet.

Sara didn't mind waiting because she had insulated feet to kept her warm. She also knew that Mardi would get there and that she was probably late because she was making sure her dress was perfect.

The Snowy Owl fluffed her wings and flew to the top of the Ice Palace. With her keen eyesight she could see that Mardi was in her carriage and on the way. She swooped down and told the large crowd that the blushing bride would arrive in a moment.

The news didn't cheer up the groom. He couldn't understand why Mardi would be late on a special day. Andy got really mad when he found out that part of the reason Mardi was late was because she had stopped to enjoy a view of the wintry Village from Petrova Hill.

Mardi could see that Andy was upset with her when they met at the ice palace steps. They did not speak or even look at each other; they both moped.

Sara saw the two lovebirds were not happy. She knew she had to do something, because she was afraid one or both would say "I don't," when she asked if they wanted to be married.

From beneath her wing she took out a crumpled piece of paper.

"I have a poem to read for our couple, from the famous Adirondack storyteller, Kathleen Errant," Sara said loudly and began to read the poem.

earth*girl dreams

earth*girl is here for you

to enjoy her seasons of fun

from spring to winter

she dresses you in color

every autumn and in

flowers every spring

in summer she paints

the forest green and

winter sparkles white

she is simple in her desire

she does not ask you

to build her a castle

just give her blocks of ice

and she will call it a palace

lay down in the snow

wiggle your legs and arms

and those are her angels

let her wind blow back your hair

and her sun warm your horizons

her days are your visions

her nights are your dreams

earth*girl does not ask you

to change her seasons

just as she knows you

will be you through them all

when you accept earth*girl

for the woman that she is

you inherit the beauty of nature

that is yours forever

Andy looked up from his brooding and saw Mardi smiling at him. Her smile warmed his heart and he completely forgot his cold feet.

"Andy, I stopped and enjoyed the view because I knew from now on, starting today, everything beautiful that I see will be shared with you," Mardi explained.

Andy's smile spread to the edges of his face. He hugged Mardi. He looked at the beaming Snowy Owl and said, "Let us start forever, right now."

2002 - Sara is a Flapper

Sara is a Flapper

Times were kind of somber for Sara the Snowy Owl when she flew into Saranac Lake on January 27, 1920. The whole country had been through a lot of difficulties. Sara was filled with melancholy.

That was part of the reason why she had returned to Saranac Lake. She knew when her beak was turned down, there would be someone in town with a joke or story that would cheer her up. There hadn't been a Winter Carnival in just about three years, so Sara was thrilled to be back.

The last time Sara really felt energetic was three years before in January 1917. Oh what a time Winter Carnival had been then. The residents of Saranac Lake had built a runway of ice down Baker Mountain that slid into Moody Pond. That was a year of exciting fun. Perhaps her favorite event was the Fancy Dress Ice Carnival where seamstress Maggie Atkins, and her assistant Amanda Hubert, created a wonderful dress that Sara could slip her big white wings through and do the Charleston.

When the big white owl flapped her wings and crossed her knees it was a sight to behold. In fact many of those who saw Sara do the dance with her wings a swinging would imitate her, because it looked like so much fun. And it was. The imitators soon received the nickname of flappers, because of the way they would flap their wings.

In 1917, there were bobsled races and single sled races, Sara couldn't fit into the bobsleds, but she was a whiz on the sing sled. Her friend Forest would give her a big shove and down she would go, light as a feather and as fast as a locomotive.

That was good year because – Andrew J. Callahan and Francis B. Cantwell, Marshals of Parade, let her sit on the marshals' float during the gala parade.

But that was 1917, now it was 1920. Sara was hoping for it to be another exciting Festival of Winter. She had received a letter from her friend Bud Walters and the letter mentioned that Saranac Lake was becoming quite prosperous. The train was making as many as 20 stops a day. The train brought many visitors. Some to enjoy the recreation the area had to offer and some to visit the Trudeau Sanatorium. Now with a new name; named after the founder Edward Livingston Trudeau who had passed away in 1915. Not just Sara sorely missed E.L., but Mr. Trudeau was a friend to all in Saranac Lake.

There were also more than 6,000 residents in Saranac Lake, most of who were on a first name bases with Sara. With paved main streets, two theatres and an automatic fire-alarm, Saranac Lake was quite a little Village. It served as a center place that supplied the workers for construction materials as they built many wealthy industrialists' 'camps' in the woods.

Bud's letter told Sara of an exciting Winter Carnival that would include fireworks and a Mardi Gras Dance. Certainly Sara would get her party dress out and shake her tail feathers.

After visiting with Bud, Sara stopped by Cole M. Ann at the local music store. Cole was known to always have a good story. She went in to see what the popular piano rolls were and get a story ripe with mirth from Cole. After a couple jokes she was giggling like a school girl.

Next Sara went to Christy Mathewson's place on Park Ave to play a couple games of checkers, Sara lost all of them; that Mathewson could jump to a king almost as well as he could throw a fastball.

The Village was expecting Sara's return. There was going to be an International Ski Jumping Championship. The Villagers had created a special category for Sara, a special honor for her alone. Of course this was because everyone knew, that even the best jumpers in the world could not out jump Sara.

The magnificent Ice Palace that Saranac Lake built for Sara to live in during her stay was in place as well.

The only trouble was the gloomy feeling in Saranac Lake. Even though there was a lot of fun planned, there seemed to be some spark missing. Worst of all, no one seemed to know about the big talent show so Sara took it upon herself to spread the word, but she knew she couldn't do alone. Few great and wonderful things can happen with only one person.

The first person the snowy owl went to was William Morris, the talent agent from the big city, who now lived in Saranac Lake. Like many of the new residents, Mr. Morris was very active and he was organizing the show. He had organized many grand events, since he had connections with the top entertainers in the country. In 1915, the talent agent had organized the building of the Methodist Church through his various talent shows.

And why not? The town could boast having the Pontiac Theatre, one of the best theatre houses in New York. As Mr. Morris liked to boast there was none better than what Saranac Lake had to offer. At one time it was believed that Laura Crisp performed there.

So Sara flew over to William Morris' house to talk turkey. He was very excited about the show, but for some reason he couldn't get anyone interested in going to the performance.

Their first idea was to make up some poster and Sara flew them around town to the various stores and businesses in town. With only one more day left until the extravaganza, they weren't sure if there was time.

Mr. Morris told Sara to go to her ski jump competition and not to worry. So Sara grabbed her skis and started out...then an idea struck her. Mr. Morris could see the twinkle in Sara's big round owl eyes. He wanted to know what she had in mind, but the snowy owl would only say, "You'll see."

An hour later most of those in the Village had gathered at Miller Hill near Riverside Inn to watch the competition. When it was Sara's turn to jump, everyone moved back, they knew her jump would be the longest of the day.

Down the snow-covered ramp slid the snowy owl. When she jumped off the end of the ramp, she spread her wings and took flight. Attached to her tail was a banner, a banner so large that only Sara could draw across the sky. On the banner was an American flag and the words: "Talent Show at the Pontiac!"

Sara didn't land at the end of the jump, but continued to fly through the sky, displaying her banner. She flapped her wings and crossed her knees, just like she danced and flew around the North Country until everyone knew about the big dance.

Even if they didn't go to the show, people in the area talked about the 'big flapper' from up north for many years to come.

2001 - On the Iron Highway

On the Iron Highway

Sara the Snowy Owl was on her way to Saranac Lake. It was 1908 and she knew there were no plans for a Winter Carnival that year, but she was feeling a bit lonesome for the sight of some of her friends from the mountain town. She figured that she would fly down for a couple weeks for a visit before returning to her winter retreat in northern Canada.

In recent years, finding Saranac Lake had become easier. Railroad tracks formed pathways to towns and village around the North East. Just as it was easier for travelers to travel to Saranac lake, it was easier for Sara to find her way back to her adopted home. As long as the trains were running she could find her way by following the 'ribbons of steel.'

Even with the railroad lines to follow, it was still a long trip. Sara would stop from time to time to catch her breath and admire the beauty of winter.

Flying over Mont Tremblant, in Quebec, she was a bit tired, so she swooped down to a tiny little village.

The small town of Sainte-Agathe-des-Mont reminded here of some place so familiar. The air was pure and fresh and the folks in the town seemed friendlier than most. It reminded her of Saranac Lake.

Sara had landed on a hillside that overlooked the French-Canadian town of Ste.-Agathe which offered a beautiful view. The same kind of view she had when she sat on the mountain tops of Mt. Baker or Mt. Pisgah on the edges of Saranac Lake.

As her thoughts drifted to Saranac Lake, she realized it was time to move on. She thought of returning on her way back, but now her focus was more on flying on.

The skies were near pristine and she followed one train line to another finally connecting with the Delaware & Hudson Railroad Line over Plattsburgh.

As luck would have it, there was a train pulling out of the station. Sara flew down onto the caboose that brought up the rear of the train leaving the station. With her strong feet, she was able to hold on and hitch a ride on the train all the way to Saranac Lake. She had rode the train several times. The first time she had hitched a ride it was known as the Chateaugay Railroad.

She knew in the train below there would be many people on their way to Saranac Lake to seek out the great Dr. E. L. Trudeau for treatment of tuberculosis. He was well known for the work he did, just as Saranac Lake was known for it's convalescing properties. Sara was blessed to have not contracted the lung disease. She always reasoned that a lot of her luck had to do with visiting Saranac Lake and breathing the fresh air. Regardless of the air, just being in Saranac Lake made her feel better and she attributed her good health to happiness that exuded in the village.

While the rhythm of the train rambled through the wilderness of the Adirondacks, Sara was lulled into a nap. When she woke, the train was pulling into the station. It was the Union Depot, a station that was just four years old and served two rail lines.

As always, Sara made her way to the Trudeau Sanitarium to visit Dr. Trudeau. She found out that he was doing his rounds. When she caught up with him, the doctor was talking to one of his patients. From the conversation, she guessed the patient was fairly new to the hospital. Like many patients, he was wishing he could be home. It wasn't that he didn't like the care he was receiving, he just missed his family.

Sara introduced herself, which startled the gentleman. He stepped out of bed, part because he was very formal and part out of fear of seeing a giant snowy owl in his hospital room.

Dr. Trudeau introduced Sara to the gentleman, Douglas Lorne McGibbon. McGibbon was a big man, who could look Sara in the eye. She found his enthusiasm to be inviting. It was clear though, that McGibbon was suffering from TB and needed to return to bed.

Sara was quite surprised that McGibbon was actually from the town she had rested in only a few hours earlier. When Sara commented on how fresh the air was and friendly the people were, McGibbon responded with his own comparison of Saranac Lake.

Instantly Sara and McGibbon knew they were of like minds. The two friends would have several more conversations in the years to come, but their introduction was interrupted by nurse France Gareau. France made it her job to ensure patients got their rest, she was kind, but you didn't want to disagree with her, so Sara said good-bye.

Sara heard McGibbon comment to a patient next to him, who by coincidence was also from Canada, that the two of them should start a cure hospital in Ste.-Agathe.

Sara knew there would be a passenger on the train back to Ste.-Agathe before too long, looking for a sanitarium site. In fact, the very next year, she visited McGibbon in Saranac Lake and he was excited to tell her that not only was his health improving, but should he have problems again, there would soon be a cure center in Ste.-Agathe.

Their friendship firmly cemented, like the villages of Ste.-Agathe and Saranac Lake, Sara and McGibbon went to the 1909 Masquerade Ball together in the Village. The two of them also watched the parade, with 50 floats.

From then on, Sara would always make a stop in Ste.-Agathe as she traveled to Saranac Lake to visit McGibbon and eventually a town full of friends. The communities would forever be linked, regardless if there was a train junction to connect them, there would always be a connection of history that would hold them together.

2000 - Sara Talks to Saranac Lake

Sara Talks to Saranac Lake

When Sara the Snowy Owl came to Saranac Lake to visit Winter Carnival in 1936 she was happy to be back. It had been a few years since she had been to Saranac Lake and thus the folks of the Village had not needed to build a Ice Palace home for Sara.

When that great white owl Sara did not fly in, the Village folks put the grand February festival, the Winter Carnival, on hold. With out Sara, the life of the party, the town took a break from Winter Carnival.

Many changes had occurred in the village in the years since Sara's last visit. The town hall she remembered had burned down, and the villagers had built a new one in the same location. It was a beautiful brick structure, and the heart of community activities. When Sara first saw the auditorium in the building she knew this would be the perfect spot for concerts. Though she didn't know it at the time, the new town hall would also be the perfect spot for the crowning of the King and Queen of Winter Carnival once the winter festival started naming royalty.

There was also the new Paul Smith's Electric Light & Power & Railroad Company building. Many visitors had come and stayed a short while in the village to cure from tuberculous. With the curative properties of life in the village and the freshness of the air, Saranac Lake was well known as a place to get better.

Like the rest of the country, Saranac Lake had endured a great depression, but was once again a thriving community.

And there was now something new in the air that would change the village for evermore. It was something that would bring the Village even closer than it had been. It was something that would give Sara a chance to visit all her friends, without going to each person's home!

Since Sara had started visiting she had become friends with most all the residents of the small Village. She also had become a healing spirit for all the visitors who were in Saranac Lake to recover from tuberculous. When Sara came to town and visited the patients in the Trudeau Sanitarium and the other curing cottages in the Village there were clearly a therapeutic results.

Sara had so many friends that when she made her visits, it was difficult for her to see everyone. In fact, in 1936 she had little time to participate in the many Winter Carnival events. She thought she was going to miss some of the Northern New York Speed Skating Championships and maybe even the dog sled races. The Skater's Ball was the highlight of the 1936 Winter Carnival Social Calendar and Sara thought she might have to miss that too.

But that was before Sara found out what was new in the air.

Sara was having tea with her new friend Hannah, the 10-year-old acting star of Saranac Lake and her manager, Tera Olive. The white owl was excusing herself to go visit some of her other show business friends who were in the town. Hannah was by no means the only actor that Sara knew. Saranac Lake was a recreational mecca for entertainers. So much so that Tera worked for the William Morris Talent Agency which had set up an office in the Village.

Sara told Hannah that she wished she could get the whole Village into the Town Hall so she could talk to them all at once, when Hannah suggested they take a trip to the radio station, where Hannah was famous for her commercials. At first Sara thought Hannah had gone off the deep end. The Snowy Owl thought Hannah was referring to the Radio-Flyer wagons that many of the children in Saranac Lake had. The children would often push their wagons up to the top of the many hills and go flying down, driving their parents crazy with fear. Sara thought that Hannah meant the owl should hop in a wagon and travel around to her friends.

Then Hannah explained what was new in the air – it was WNBZ. The small radio station had first gone on the air in 1928. In fact, Hannah said, while walking over to the big wood box in the corner of the room, there is a really great show coming on the air now. They gathered around the wood box and Hannah turned some knobs. At first there was static, then a voice came on announcing there was going to be an encore production of "A Stranger For Christmas." It was a radio drama and like magic the radio broadcast a wonderful story.

Right after the show was over, Sara flew over to the radio station and talked to the owners Earl Smith and Bill Mace. Sara and the owners became fast friends and they offered the White Owl a chance to broadcast to her friends whenever she was in Saranac Lake.

Shortly after her visit to the station, Sara, with Hannah's help, developed the very famous comedy routine of Hoo's on First.

1999 - The Winter It Forgot to Snow

The Winter It Forgot to Snow

Sara had been coming to Saranac Lake since 1898, but never had she seen the folks of the village so sad. In the 50 years since her first visit, this was the first time the village was not covered with snow.

This was a time long before snow could be made by spraying a mist of water into the cold air. It was a time when only what fell from the skies covered the ground and now the ground was green. When Sara arrived for her annual visit, all the snowshoes and skis were still packed away.

It was ironic, in most places people hope for warm and mild Winters, but not in Saranac Lake where people enjoy the fruits of Winter. They relish the fun of snow and ice that usually is so abundant in the area. This was the first time that Sara's beautiful white feathers did not blend in with the snow in the trees.

Sara was a white owl (that is what they called owls like her at the time, but that name was soon to change). Her wing-span was almost as wide as the whole Adirondack Forest.

Sara was in town for the Winter Carnival, but few were excited about the prospects of a Carnival without snow. Everyone wondered how they could celebrate Winter, if Winter never showed up. Even the arrival of Sara was met with less enthusiasm than usual. Sara swooped down on Prospect Avenue to visit her friend Sean. She liked to make that her first stop because the road was high above the village and presented one of the best views. She also liked how Sean always greeted her with a big smile–his smile was almost as big as the wing-span of the white owl!

To her dismay, even Sean was not happy. If Sean couldn't smile, then who could, thought Sara. The little boy told Sara that he felt bad because the town would not be able to build the Ice Palace for her to stay in.

Sara told him that she could sleep in the woods in Bloomingdale, in the woods near her friend Kati-Ann. But that was little comfort for her young friend. Sean pointed out that he could not ski at Mt. Pisgah, the little ski slope north of town, or sled at the hills in town. Many of the children had received sleds and skates for Christmas, but these gifts were sad reminders that Winter had forgotten to stop in Saranac Lake that year.

The missing Winter was also hurting business in the small town. Everyone from Morgan Fobare, who sold wood for the wood burners, to Pat Nosliw, who made the warmest sweaters in the east from the wool of her Norwegian sheep, was wondering where their next dollar would come from. Without Winter, who needed their goods?

Without the cold to freeze the lakes, the ice industry of the village was missing. The same blocks of ice that were pushed and stacked into a home for Sara, were also stored to fill iceboxes in the summer.

By now the town had become famous for the gigantic Ice Palace that was built to protect Sara from the harshness of the Winter winds. Almost as well known was how people who were sick got better when they lived in Saranac Lake. Few believed the town had any magical cure, but all knew that happiness makes people feel better. Unfortunately that happiness was sadly lacking this year.

Sara told her friends in the Village to cheer up, that she had a plan to bring Winter back to Saranac Lake. It was no simple plan, but fortunately Sara had come to Saranac Lake early this year. She had planned to go sledding with Sean and to help Kati-Ann with her math homework. Sara was very talented with fractions and could divide with the best of them.

The first thing Sara did was borrow the mayor's hat. Sara knew the Mayor had the biggest head in town and since it wasn't cold he didn't need a hat anyway. With the hat in her beak she flew up to the Arctic Circle and scooped up a hat-full of snow and dumped it into a cloud that was just dawdling in the sky. She got several more hat-fulls until the cloud was so full, it was ready to burst.

To give the cloud a little nudge, Sara got behind it and flapped her powerful wings. She then began to push the cloud with her beak. In front of the cold air that moved along with Sara and the bundle of snow. It was a long flight, but the enormous white owl was able to bring the cloud to Saranac Lake in plenty of time for the beginning of Winter Carnival

Once the snow-filled cloud was over the village, Sara took a snoot-full of pepper. This caused her to sneeze and her sneeze was more than that cloud, or any other, could bear. When the cloud cracked open it snowed for days, dumping Winter all over the village. The cold air froze the lakes and soon the village was making another Ice Palace. Sara had brought Winter to the village.

In the process of scooping up snow, the mayor's hat had stretched some, but once the mayor began to tell everyone that he was responsible for Winter finally arriving, the hat seemed to fit just right again.

He didn't take all of Sara's credit though. Because she had turned the village into a Winter spectacle, they gave her a nickname. From then on Sara and all the other white owls became known as snowy owls.

1998 - A Home for Sara

A Home for Sara

Winter had swooped down on the tiny village of Saranac Lake. It was another white winter in the Adirondacks. Lakes were frozen and snow blanketed the land. Like the previous year, the good folks of the town were planning the second Winter Carnival, to celebrate the magic of winter.

The year was 1898. Games were planned. Ice sculptures were carved. Entertainment and glee were in the hearts of all who called Saranac Lake home.

On the snowy eve of Winter Carnival a stranger came to town, one who would create memories in the minds of children of all ages for ever more.

This was not your typical visitor, but then Saranac Lake was not your typical village and the stranger knew that. Though she did not look like the north land inhabitants, she had the same pioneer spirit. It is not typical to revel in the frosty temperatures like the residents of this village in the mountains. For this the stranger was truly excited. She knew that those who embraced winter as a friend would love her as well. She knew because she had often flown above this small community.

The stranger knew she had no place to stay, but was confident the inhabitants of the village would make room for her.

She was not noticed at first. The residents were busy cutting blocks of ice that would be saved for the coming summer. The ice would be stored and used to cool food through the summer heat.

As the workers went about their task they thought of the week of fun ahead. Intent on their work, they never looked up at the tree right next to them.

Suddenly a strong breeze, which the folks took as brisk northerly wind, blew across the necks and faces of those cutting ice. So used to the winter cold were the Saranac Lakers, at first they did not look up at the spectacle that had landed just above their heads.

Eventually the mayor of the village stopped sawing and looked up. With his mouth gapped wide he saw the visitor perched on the bough of a tree. The wind was in fact the flapping of wings as the large bird had landed.

In Saranac Lake at this time, if one person stopped working, the rest would notice. Though no one was surprised that it was the mayor who was resting, they were when his son Brent stopped. The amazement on the faces of the two was sublime. Following their gaze, all of those present, one by one, saw what would become a friend to each.

What sat before them was Sara The Snowy Owl. A bird that was as stunning as she was kind. She had traveled far, but knew by the smiles before her, she had found a place she could call her winter home.

Everyone marveled at the sight of the majestic bird sitting on the biggest tree in town. The tree, now bare of the leaves that once provided summer shade, framed the bird's feathers. Her feathers were as white and fluffy as the snow that rested upon the village rooftops. Sara The Snowy Owl was the biggest, most beautiful bird they had ever seen. And they had seen a lot of birds.

Sara spoke to the people and they were surprised to realize her hoot sounded much like the low tone of winter winds. Instantly the people knew this stranger was one of them. Though not from the village, she was one who would love it as they did. The friendly residents of Saranac Lake invited her to stay and even invited her to stay with them in heir homes.

Unfortunately, Sara would have to refuse them. Each home with its wood-stoves and fireplace would be too warm for her, she explained. She pointed out that her feathers provided her with too much warmth to stay inside.

The humble village inhabitants insisted that at the very least they must provide her some shelter against the winds of winter.

Sara told the people she could not take the wood they used for heat and besides, she only needed a basic shelter that would block the wind.

The mayor's son suddenly and unexpectedly jumped up. Some still say he did so because the block of ice he was sitting on had chilled his thought process, but when everyone turned to look at him, he exclaimed, "the ice blocks."

Yes, that was the answer. Along the shore of the lake were several thousand blocks of ice. If stacked right, they could create a home for the snowy owl. All of the town began to slide the ice blocks onto each other creating a wall, then another, and another, and then a fourth.

The sun was slipping behind the mountains. With ramps and pulleys the workers built the walls higher and higher, until they thought they could go no higher.\par

The beautiful snowy owl had been working with the villagers, using her beak to help place the bricks of ice. When the men could no longer place the blocks any higher, Sara — with her wide and powerful wings — was able to fly the last few blocks to the top of her winter retreat. As she settled the last block of ice into place, the village realized they had created Sara the perfect home, as well as a monument befitting the upcoming Winter Carnival.

This was the beginning of a friendship between Sara and the village that would grow for years to come. Each visit to the village brought with it a new story for children to tell their children.

Sara was a busy bird and, as much as she loved the people of Saranac Lake, she was not able to visit each year. Nevertheless, each year, in hopes that she would fly in with winter, the people would build her a magical palace in which to live. Even without Sara, the palace ignites a spark of happiness that endures today in the castle of ice.