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Sara the Snowy Owl 1998

A Home for Sara
Sara the Snowy Owl parade
photo by Andy Flynn

Sara the Snowy Owl Fable - 1998

A Home for Sara

Winter had swooped down on the tiny village of Saranac Lake. It was another white winter in the Adirondacks. Lakes were frozen and snow blanketed the land. Like the previous year, the good folks of the town were planning the second Winter Carnival, to celebrate the magic of winter.

The year was 1898. Games were planned. Ice sculptures were carved. Entertainment and glee were in the hearts of all who called Saranac Lake home.

On the snowy eve of Winter Carnival a stranger came to town, one who would create memories in the minds of children of all ages for ever more.

This was not your typical visitor, but then Saranac Lake was not your typical village and the stranger knew that. Though she did not look like the north land inhabitants, she had the same pioneer spirit. It is not typical to revel in the frosty temperatures like the residents of this village in the mountains. For this the stranger was truly excited. She knew that those who embraced winter as a friend would love her as well. She knew because she had often flown above this small community.

The stranger knew she had no place to stay, but was confident the inhabitants of the village would make room for her.

She was not noticed at first. The residents were busy cutting blocks of ice that would be saved for the coming summer. The ice would be stored and used to cool food through the summer heat.

As the workers went about their task they thought of the week of fun ahead. Intent on their work, they never looked up at the tree right next to them.

Suddenly a strong breeze, which the folks took as brisk northerly wind, blew across the necks and faces of those cutting ice. So used to the winter cold were the Saranac Lakers, at first they did not look up at the spectacle that had landed just above their heads.

Eventually the mayor of the village stopped sawing and looked up. With his mouth gapped wide he saw the visitor perched on the bough of a tree. The wind was in fact the flapping of wings as the large bird had landed.

In Saranac Lake at this time, if one person stopped working, the rest would notice. Though no one was surprised that it was the mayor who was resting, they were when his son Brent stopped. The amazement on the faces of the two was sublime. Following their gaze, all of those present, one by one, saw what would become a friend to each.

What sat before them was Sara The Snowy Owl. A bird that was as stunning as she was kind. She had traveled far, but knew by the smiles before her, she had found a place she could call her winter home.

Everyone marveled at the sight of the majestic bird sitting on the biggest tree in town. The tree, now bare of the leaves that once provided summer shade, framed the bird's feathers. Her feathers were as white and fluffy as the snow that rested upon the village rooftops. Sara The Snowy Owl was the biggest, most beautiful bird they had ever seen. And they had seen a lot of birds.

Sara spoke to the people and they were surprised to realize her hoot sounded much like the low tone of winter winds. Instantly the people knew this stranger was one of them. Though not from the village, she was one who would love it as they did. The friendly residents of Saranac Lake invited her to stay and even invited her to stay with them in heir homes.

Unfortunately, Sara would have to refuse them. Each home with its wood-stoves and fireplace would be too warm for her, she explained. She pointed out that her feathers provided her with too much warmth to stay inside.

The humble village inhabitants insisted that at the very least they must provide her some shelter against the winds of winter.

Sara told the people she could not take the wood they used for heat and besides, she only needed a basic shelter that would block the wind.

The mayor's son suddenly and unexpectedly jumped up. Some still say he did so because the block of ice he was sitting on had chilled his thought process, but when everyone turned to look at him, he exclaimed, "the ice blocks."

Yes, that was the answer. Along the shore of the lake were several thousand blocks of ice. If stacked right, they could create a home for the snowy owl. All of the town began to slide the ice blocks onto each other creating a wall, then another, and another, and then a fourth.

The sun was slipping behind the mountains. With ramps and pulleys the workers built the walls higher and higher, until they thought they could go no higher.\par

The beautiful snowy owl had been working with the villagers, using her beak to help place the bricks of ice. When the men could no longer place the blocks any higher, Sara — with her wide and powerful wings — was able to fly the last few blocks to the top of her winter retreat. As she settled the last block of ice into place, the village realized they had created Sara the perfect home, as well as a monument befitting the upcoming Winter Carnival.

This was the beginning of a friendship between Sara and the village that would grow for years to come. Each visit to the village brought with it a new story for children to tell their children.

Sara was a busy bird and, as much as she loved the people of Saranac Lake, she was not able to visit each year. Nevertheless, each year, in hopes that she would fly in with winter, the people would build her a magical palace in which to live. Even without Sara, the palace ignites a spark of happiness that endures today in the castle of ice.

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Recent Info/News
2021 Carnival Theme is 'Mask-erade'
2020-09-15 - Members of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Committee, and members of the public who attended the committee meeting on September 15, have chosen ‘Mask-erade' as the theme for the 2021 Carnival.
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