this is your bank in saranac lake
Adirondack Bank was founded on Oct. 31, 1898, serving the needs of Northern New York State as the Saranac Lake Co-Operative Savings and Loan Association. The ideals of integrity, service and community involvement established over a century ago remain as the foundation of the bank's operation today. Adirondack Bank now has two branches in Saranac Lake: 67 Main St. and 139 Church St.
Supporting the Carnival
Adirondack Bank has a long history of supporting the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival, from sponsoring the Innertube Races for many years to building some of the most exciting floats for the Gala Parade. Below is a story about the Adirondack Bank's first Winter Carnival float after the tragic events of 9/11, originally printed in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise (Feb. 9, 2002).
2002 Adirondack Bank float
By ANDY FLYNN
SARANAC LAKE — Tickets to paradise come in many forms. Some leave the frigid Adirondack weather for a mid-winter break in tropical destinations such as Hawaii and Mexico. Others stay and build a float for the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival parade. Victor Presti decided to stay.
Paradise for this Adirondack Bank employee could be found at the former Trudeau Sand & Gravel garage on Pine Street, where he and his "trusted assistant" Ralph DeRose took a week to construct the bank's 2002 Winter Carnival Gala Parade float, titled "Old Glory is Our Blanket." DeRose has been the courier and maintenance man for the past three years at the Adirondack Bank's Saranac Lake office on Main Street, and Presti, the assistant cashier adjustment supervisor, has been with the bank for the past nine years.
"Ralph's my main man," Presti said. "I bounce ideas off him."
As a carpenter and maintenance man, DeRose is quite useful with the float-building process. Straightening his posture and putting his thumbs underneath his armpits, in Abe Lincoln fashion, DeRose said, "I'm the silent partner here."
That makes Presti ... the energetic one.
A former New York City Police Department (NYPD) detective, Presti moved to Saranac Lake nine years ago. While the nation hails NYPD employees as heroes for their work during the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks on the World Trade Center, Presti's desire to build an award-winning float for the Winter Carnival is not directly linked to any connection he has with his former employment. Even as he rides the tidal wave of patriotism with the rest of the village—the Winter Carnival theme this year is "United We Stand" — Presti just wants to make people happy.
"I like to put big smiles on people's faces," Presti said. "How can you beat that? We're putting on a show. Plus, I like to be creative."
Inspiration for his floats, which have won eight trophies in Saranac Lake over the past nine years, comes from many years of watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in Manhattan.
"I'm from New York City," Presti said. "I always had the itch to do a float, like they had in the Thanksgiving parade and the Tournament of Roses Parade."
After arriving in the Adirondacks, where the parades usually feature pickup trucks pulling floats on flatbed trailers, Presti wanted to bring some of the City with him. He admired the large parades, where the float and vehicle are one in the same.
"I think that's the coolest thing in the world, and I said, 'We're going to bring that to Saranac Lake,'" Presti said.
His wheels? A blue 4X4 GMC Sonoma pickup truck. Raw materials? Chicken wire, wood, screws, nails, fishing line, PVC pipes, plastic board, black nylon meshing, Plexiglas and a giant $650 U.S. flag. Not counting candy, this float will cost about $1,200. Presti admits that $650 is a lot of money to pay for a flag, but with one this size, it was a bargain. This particular flag drapes over several wood and chicken wire framed "mountains" on the Adirondack Bank float and is longer than his pickup truck. It's as big as one of the flags flying over the George Washington Bridge, which spans the Hudson River from New York City to Fort Lee, N.J.
Given the "United in the Mountains" theme, "Everybody was going to have a flag," Presti said. "I figured, let me do something that some people in town have probably never seen before, and that's a gigantic flag."
In order to show off this flag-draped float to the Winter Carnival crowd, it takes about 80 man hours of labor between Presti and DeRose.
"That's the two of us working 40 hours each," Presti said, adding that other bank employees are desperately needed for the finishing touches.
"In fact, I might put out an SOS for a seamstress tomorrow," Presti said Wednesday. "I put out those crazy float memos in the office."
This is the first year Presti has taken vacation time for the Winter Carnival float project. Usually, it takes about three weeks of construction in the evenings after he clocks out from the job. Many people take vacation time to get the farthest away from their workplace. Presti, however, doesn't mind that this is a work-related project.
"I don't feel like I'm at work. I'm at ease doing this," he said.
Presti and DeRose started building the float on the evening of Friday, Feb. 1 in the middle of an ice and wind storm, just as the power was flickering on and off in Saranac Lake and the new Winter Carnival king and queen were being crowned at the Coronation of Royalty ceremony in the Harrietstown Town Hall. This week, they've been at the Pine Street garage every night until 9 or 10 p.m. and sometimes later.
"We've worked as late as 1 in the morning on floats," Presti said.
They plan on finishing the Adirondack Bank float tonight.
For the first several years, Presti was satisfied with building a float just for the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival. Then his hunger for pleasing the public became insatiable; he needed extra limelight to create bigger smiles on even more faces.
"Just when we started having fun, it was over with," Presti said.
The solution? Use the same float for two more parades. After all, Adirondack Bank has branches in Utica and Plattsburgh. They decided to construct the bank's float for the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival and use it for Utica's St. Patrick's Day parade and Plattsburgh's Fourth of July parade.
It's been a tradition for the past five years, and Presti has worked on floats that have won a total of 17 trophies in these three parades. Transporting and storing the floats from one end of the Adirondack Park to the other over a six-month span created additional problems, and it took more of that Presti magic to solve them.
"That's when building the float became a science, not just building a vehicle but building it like a puzzle," Presti said, adding that this year's float will consist of 11 or 12 sections by the time it's complete.
"Basically, they will get thrown in the back of a U-Haul truck," he said.
After the March 16 parade in Utica, the Adirondack Bank float will be trucked to the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base to be re-assembled for the July 4 parade. It will take about four hours to take it apart and another six hours to put it back together.
In Saranac Lake, Chamber of Commerce officials estimate that about 10,000 people will watch this year's Winter Carnival parade. In Utica, about 30,000 people see the St. Patrick's Day parade, and in Plattsburgh, another 25,000 witness the Fourth of July parade. That's about 65,000 people who get to see the Adirondack Bank float every year.
"We get a good bang for our buck out of this," Presti said.
In Plattsburgh last year, people who watched the parade were drenched in a downpour. There was one group "soaked to the skins" sitting in the rain that got up to leave once the Adirondack Bank float passed them. Presti heard one of them say, "Well, I've seen what I came for."
"I thought that was the biggest compliment," Presti said.
Float construction, however, does not always fill Presti with a euphoric feeling. Someone has to worry. There's the frame, the skin, the sound system and the generator. Many different things have to gel in order to make a float that is both eye-pleasing and safe. Besides (and this is the policeman inside him), Presti needs to make sure his vehicle/float is legally constructed, equipped with proper mirrors, etc. At one point this past week, Presti was nervous and his palms were full of sweat. The framing. The weight. The bracing.
"I thought, 'My God, is this really going to work?'" he said.
His worries quickly subsided. After all, his secret formula for putting a pickup truck in a puzzle has proven worthy for the past several years.
After the Saranac Lake, Utica and Plattsburgh parades, the float will be taken apart with many pieces recycled for next year. Presti's pickup truck will be driven back home. Trophies will be placed in their designated spots at bank branches.
And the gigantic $650 American flag?
Looking at the partially finished float with the flag draped over miniature wood-framed mountains, his hands on his hips and a smile slowly spreading across his face, Presti said, "It's hard to say what we'll do with the flag once the last parade is complete. It's quite a piece, though."