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SARANAC LAKE The bizarre winter carnival 2021 is now over and workers in the village of Saranac Lake demolished the Ice Palace on Tuesday.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has hampered many carnival traditions and events this year, Saranac Lakers have found a way to celebrate virtually, in real life, and in alternative ways.

Some innovations, such as live broadcast events, may persist into non-pandemic years. Others, like Park-and-View fireworks and virtual-only events, the organizers are happy to step into the past.

Winter Carnival Committee Director Jeff Branch said the village demolished the palace early because it attracted too many people and because many of them were breaking COVID-19 pandemic guidelines and rules parking.

We can’t control the crowds there. We can’t be there 24/7, Branch said. In my mind, it was always going to be short lived this year.

The Flower Lake boat launch parking lot was blocked with gates for the duration of the carnival, and the carnival committee obtained a permit from the State Department of Environmental Protection to shut it down , but throughout the week, spectators moved the doors and parking lot in the parking lot to walk towards the palace.

We put them in place. I get a call 10 minutes later and come back over there, Branch said. One day I came down and people had moved them and they were literally driving behind the Ice Palace.

As workers demolished the palace on Monday afternoon, part of River Street was overrun with visitors trying to take a last look. At one point in the afternoon, several cars were parked along the road near the palace, some with flashing emergency lights.

Both sides of River Street are areas with no parking or idling, according to village police Sgt. Leigh Wenske. A parking lot usually used for Lakeview Deli patrons was crowded with visitors to the palace. Visitors were rushing from one side of the busy street to the other.

Even as heavy equipment operators put metal on ice to tear down the palace walls, visitors continued to pose in front of the rubble and take videos of the structure as it was demolished. Shortly after 1 p.m., the children could be seen navigating the icy wreckage as the parents watched, taking photos. A man, holding his child against him, took a selfie with a pile of destroyed ice bricks behind him.

Dean Baker, director of the 101 Ice Palace Workers volunteers who are building the palace, said he was standing after a few weeks of cold.

It’s very structurally sound, Baker said. They demolish it because there are too many people hanging out there.

He said the construction this year was well done and safe. Builders were limited to 50 people or less each day, there was a daily sign-up for contact tracing if needed, and workers wore masks and were socially estranged. He said all of these precautions made no difference in the construction.

Baker said the blocks of ice left on the shore of Flower Lake will likely last until spring, when they melt into the lake, depending on the weather.

That’s the good thing about the palace: we recycle it every year, Baker said.

This demolition may be a disappointment to anyone hoping to purchase the Ice Palace, which was listed on Zillow’s real estate website this year for $ 5,500,000.

It was listed as a seasonal residence by local real estate agent Jonathan Gorgas of Merrill L. Thomas Inc.

I saw that they kind of wanted it to be virtual this year, so I thought it would be a good way to bring out some photos, Gorgas said. The vibe in town was a bit gloomy this year for Carnival, so I figured I’d just try to make people laugh and smile.

Gorgas said he tried selling Ampersand Mountain for April Fools’ Day a few years ago.

Baker said people had already listed the Ice Palace as for sale.

It was quite funny. Quite the price too, says Baker.

Around town, others have found their own ways to celebrate carnival: building arctic golf courses in their front yards, creating a mini ice palace on Moody Pond, decorating their homes or wearing costumes. Branch said he was happy to see this.

In fact, the people of that community put things in place that were perfect, Branch said. It was people from outside the region who came in and ruined everything for everyone. … I know I was here to bring business to town, but this year has been a different year.

The committees’ decisions sparked a lot of controversy in many ways, but Branch said he felt he made the right choices and hosted as many winter carnivals as possible.

There are a lot of haters cursing me from top to bottom for saying stay home, but the bottom line is we couldn’t handle what we had, Branch said. You see all this hatred spreading on social media, but the emails and comments I get that don’t get posted on social media are from people taking the time to call me or write a letter to the committee. carnival … they are all very happy with the way things went. . These are the people you care about. You don’t care about Keyboard Warriors who really don’t have anything better to do and don’t take the time to find out what’s really going on. You kind of have to let it all flow off your back.

He said the committee did what it believed to be right, based on the facts and what it believed to be best for the community.

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