LAKE PLACID - The community was packed with Christmas-themed events Dec. 6-8 for the sixth annual Holiday Village Stroll, sponsored by the Lake Placid Business Association, but the number of visitors was lower than expected due to scheduling conflicts with other events in the region.
The Can/Am Hockey tournament packed hotel rooms with hockey families and neighboring villages such as Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake held Christmas events for local residents - factors that probably led to lower attendance, according to LPBA President Lori Fitzgerald.
"We chose a weekend that was crowded with other things," Fitzgerald said, adding that the Stroll is typically held the second weekend of December, and they held it Dec. 6-8 because Dec. 1 was the previous Sunday.
The event, however, was deemed a success, and the seventh annual Holiday Village Stroll is already on the calendar for Dec. 12-13 in 2014.
"Overall, the experience for the people who came to the Village Stroll was a very, very positive one," Fitzgerald said.
The Saturday evening festivities culminated at 5 p.m. with the arrival of the yule log, a concert with the Lake Placid Middle School choir under the direction of Kim Weems and the Christmas tree-lighting ceremony, emceed by WSLP-FM radio personality Paul Varga.
Lake Placid Middle School choir, under the direction of Kim Weems, sings a Christmas song during the Holiday Village Stroll Saturday, Dec. 7. (Photo by Andy Flynn)
"As the sun sets on Lake Placid, it is clear to see the holiday Christmas spirit abounds in Lake Placid, and Lake Placid's Holiday Village Stroll really brings out the spirit in local businesses," Varga told the crowd.
The tree-lighting ceremony was sponsored by Dr. David Balestrini's office at Lake Placid Family Dental, which gave out whistles equipped with red lights to show in the dark.
Many children took advantage of the whistles' power to fill the cold, night air with an abundance of of festive noise.
Varga introduced North Elba Supervisor Roby Politi to lead the countdown for the tree-lighting.
"I can't think of a better place to celebrate the wonder of the holiday season than here in our snow-covered two-time Olympic village," Politi said. "Lake Placid is a very magical place. It's also a place of great miracles. And so we hope that some of that magic and some of those miracles rub off on each and every one of you that are visiting our community."
Varga also explained the yule log tradition in Lake Placid, which had been in place from about 1911 to 1980 and was reinstituted in 2011 by the Holiday Village Stroll committee.
"Before we light a piece of that yule log to bring good cheer this year, we have to get rid of the 2012 yule log," Varga said. "We're going to put that on the fire to continue this tradition, and then we're going to cut off a piece of the 2013 yule log to bring good cheer into 2014."
The yule log tradition is centuries old, and it made its debut locally in the early 20th century at the Lake Placid Club, where the search for the yule log was completed on Christmas Eve, according to a story written by Mary Reinman in the Dec. 20, 1979 issue of the Lake Placid News:
"The 'master of merry disports' led the search dressed like a jester in green and red tights with a floppy cap and bugle. In the morning, he and an assistant hid a 6-foot log on the club grounds.
"The first master of merry disports was Godfrey Dewey, and the role was later played by Harry Wade Hicks.
"Later in the day, blowing his bugle and singing carols, he led a group of young people in brightly colored capes to the vicinity where the log was hidden.
"After a short search, the log was dragged behind a horse team back to the clubhouse, usually straddled by courageous children. The log was split on the putting green.
"Following a buffet supper that same evening, the log was lit in the huge flagstone fireplace in the Agora Theater."
This year, Lake Placid's Godfrey Dewey character was played by Glen Cameron, who led a team of students to The Cottage, where they found the yule log nearby. They toted the log with a hand cart and dropped it off at the fire pit at Mid's Park before the tree-lighting ceremony. There, in front of the fire, a piece of the log was cut off and saved for next year.
Holiday decorating contest
During the Dec. 7 ceremony, Varga announced the Retail Window winners for the townwide holiday decorating contest: first, Lake Placid Christmas Company; second, the Bookstore Plus; and third, the Adirondack Trading Company. The rest of the winners were announced at the Sunday night skating show.
The commercial winners will be receiving plaques for display at their locations. Winners in the other commercial categories were:
*Best of Show: Whiteface Lodge
*Olympic Theme: Mirror Lake Inn
*Civic/Churches: Pilgrim Holiness Church
*Resorts: tie between the High Peaks Resort and Golden Arrow Resort
*B&B: Stage Coach Inn
*Hotel/Motel/Inn: Adirondack Inn with an honorable mention to the Placid Bay Inn
*Best New Display: Antediluvian Antiques & Curiosities
*Commercial: Lake Placid Family Dental with honorable mention to Mykonos and the Lake Placid Flower & Gift Shop
*Classic Elegance: Andy and Carol Perkins (McKinley and School streets)
*Children's Delight: Bonnie Fitzjames and Eric Lincoln (Liberty Hill) with an honorable mention to Carol Mikalonis and Jean Mitchell (Mill Pond)
*Olympic Theme: Kathy Johnson (121 Averyville Road)
*Most Creative: tie between Randy Patterson (19 Summer St.) and Larry and Nancy Master
*Jewel Box: May/Gonzales (22 Greenwood) with an honorable mention to Paul Ellsworth (24 Fawn Ridge)
*Gingerbread House: Angie and Charlie Huffman (Old Military Road) with an honorable mention to Brad and Sheila Preston (Mill Pond Drive)