SARANAC LAKE — Winter Carnival is here, and many will agree it’s off to a great start. This past weekend, Saranac Lake saw fun runs, curling exhibitions, Arctic golf, snow Frisbee, skating on Lake Colby and, of course, fireworks.

On Saturday morning, Winter Carnival King Joseph Szwed and Queen Nancy Howard Heath watched the NBT Bank fun run, then posed for photos on the Ice Palace thrones.

From the outside, Winter Carnival, especially the Royal Court, can absolutely look ridiculous. It’s a bunch of people dressing up in robes, crowns and boujee fur coats. However, that’s just the fun, goofy part. The reason these people get selected to the court is for their many years of dedicated community service.

Szwed volunteers with Meals on Wheels, the Out of Darkness suicide prevention walk and the Lake Placid Ironman Triathlon.

Heath is part of the Bloomingdale Fire Department Women’s Auxiliary and the Saranac Lake Pee Wee Hockey Association, and she serves as a eucharistic minister at St. Bernard’s Catholic Church.

“It’s a big kudo from your community,” Heath said. “When I was first told, I was overwhelmed. I started to cry. But then I composed myself and said ‘thank you’ repeatedly. It took a while for it to sink in. To me it’s one of the highest honors you can have in Saranac Lake.”

The high school court arrived at the Ice Palace dressed in fur coats that would make Cruella de Vil envious.

Olivia Bell’s coat had seen better days. From the front it looked great, but the back was full of tears and holes.

“I look like I was attacked by a bear,” she said.

Sylvie Linck showed off the inside of her coat, which was signed by previous court members — Hannah Latour in 2017, Anna Mader in 2015 and Alex Clark in 2016. She said she wants to add her own.

Winter Carnival has two sides. One side is family-friendly and full of fun activities for parents and kids. The other side can involve a fair amount of debauchery. Where are the teens in the midst of all this?

“I feel like the teenagers do all the little kid stuff, too,” Emily Muncil said. “I don’t think there is a big drinking thing for us.”

Griffin Smith said a lot of the teens volunteer for events or dress up as Carnival characters during the week.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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