Sara the Snowy Owl 2005

Sara Sweeps the Village Off Its Feet
Sara the Snowy Owl parade
photo by Andy Flynn

Sara The Snowy Owl Fable - 2005

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.

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Winter Carnival Accepting Parade and Vendor Applications
2016-12-02 - Applications for vendors and parade performers participating during the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival are now available online at www.saranaclakewintercarnival.com. Applications can also be picked up at the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce at 193 River Street.
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