The Shea family has sent three athletes from three different generations to the Olympics, and two of them winning gold. But in three generations, the Jesmers have had six make the king and queen's court of the Lake Placid Central School's Winter Carnival, with one being elected king and another queen.
"Making the court were my father Robert, sister Becky, my brother Denny, and sister Sue won, and my daughter Adele, three generations," said Joey Jesmer at the Feb. 8 coronation ceremony. "I think it is a matter of luck that we have had so many in our family do so well and a lot of good work because you have to be a pretty good in school to get to that point. It reflects a lot of character, and a lot support from classmates. It's their way of showing they respect you."
Lake Placid's Winter Carnival is the oldest of its kind founded 71 years ago to promote and encourage winter sports throughout the North Country and provide the students, faculty and their families a break during the long winter months. Teams from other schools from around the Tri-Lakes come to compete in a variety of sports. Plus, there are inner-school competitions that pit various classes against each other with all wanting to topple the seniors, who are determined to withstand the onslaught.
Lake Placid Winter Carnival King Andrew Meister and Queen Hannah Potter walk with their crowns. (Photo — Naj Wikoff)
A highlight is the annual crowning of the King and Queen of Winter, which comes down to four senior boy and girl candidates nominated by the senior class who are voted on by the entire high school student body. The nail-biter moment, equaled by the awarding of an Oscar, is the winners are not known until the very last second.
"I feel kind of nervous," said nominee Andrew Meister 10 minutes before the announcement was made. "It is a bit nerve wracking that we find out like seconds before we have to go out. No one has any idea who has won except I think Laura Clark, and she is like a trap. Nothing is getting out of her."
"I am a little nervous right now, but I will be OK if I didn't win. I am just glad to be with these people and proud of all of us," said finalist Chris Kordziel. "It would be a huge honor to win, but it is already a big honor to just be a member of the court."
"It feels great. The energy is amazing," said Middle School Principal Theresa Lindsay, enjoying attending the Carnival for the first time. "It is very, very cool. The kids are excited. It will be fun, a lot of fun. I have no favorites to win as king and queen. It is an even playing field."
"It is terribly exciting," said superintendent Roger Catania. "This is really a communitywide activity that not just builds enthusiasm and is a whole lot of fun but brings people together. We see it with the students. The students split up into different grades. They compete against each other in different colors. They go head-to-head and the get very excited, but in the end it is not about the competition part; it is really about the community part. They really do feel like more of a school community. It is really a very special activity, and I think it is fabulous. I am so happy that we are able to keep this tradition going after 71 years."
"I love this event," said School Board President Mary Dietrich. "It is one of my favorites. It's good memories, lots of fun. It's inner-generational. You watch the different generations come in through the doors, and they know that they have little kindergarteners in it. ... You just have to come in and see the action. It's funny that in this community dodgeball becomes one of the highlights, and it is, and then I got over to the hockey and saw our team win both games and become the champions of Winter Carnival. That's terrific."
"Being king of the Winter Carnival was certainly a great honor, but it was so long ago, it is hard for me to exactly remember the whole thing," said Denny Jesmer, class of 1967.
"I remember that you and Larry Barney used to be very fast, very quick on your feet, though I don't think Larry is as fast now as he once was," I said. "We were also good at making those ice carvings out front. We were really good at it."
"Yeah, well, we had a lot of artists in our class. Ronnie Raymond and Arti Torrance were into it," said Denny.
"And Mike Rand and Steve Ortloff, but anyways, did being king change your life?"
"Nah, not that I can think of," said Denny.
"You are supposed to say, 'Oh yes, it did,' and then list all the ways."
"I am just all over this night," said his wife, Mimi. "We have our niece, Adele, in the running and our grandson is Sponge Bob."
"This is wonderful," said Ron Huber after watching a presentation by the kindergarteners, who were dressed up representing everything from rock stars and action heroes to cartoon characters and flowers. "We have the king and queen in front of us for the next 12 years."
"It feels great. It was really hot up there with all the lights," said Andrew Meister, who was elected king. "The kindergarteners put on a great show. It feels just awesome."
"It was a great honor to be just on the court," said recently crowned Queen Hannah Potter. "I would like to thank my classmates and my teachers. It's a pleasure to be here. I hope for the best for all my peers. I hope everything goes well for the rest of the year."
"I feel so honored to have been asked to be archbishop," said Reg Clark, fresh from crowning Andrew and Hannah. "I would be pleased to do it again anytime."
"Winter Carnival is a good time for our classmates to compete against each other and have fun together," said Nzoni Thompson, defenseman for the successful hockey team.
"I am a substitute grand gram for the king, so I was very, very proud," said Mickey Lansing, echoing the feelings of every parent, relative and teacher in the gym.