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Lake Placid gets an A for Plan B during the holidays

January 14, 2016
Editorial , Lake Placid News

With the lack of snow and ice, the community of Lake Placid came together during the holiday season in a way we haven't seen for a long time, and it was refreshing to experience this passion for hospitality during a time of economic uncertainty.

As Christmas approached, one question was on everyone's mind: Would the visitors come to Lake Placid despite the warmth of El Nino breathing down our necks? Furthermore, with a green Christmas in the forecast, would the people who came, expecting snow, still have a good time?

Thanks to the coordinated efforts on behalf of the Lake Placid business community, the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism and the state Olympic Regional Development Authority, the answer to those questions was a resounding "Yes!"

Article Photos

Children get ready to tube down the hill at Mid’s Park during the holidays.
(Provided photo — Naj Wikoff)

Hospitality. It's what we do, and it's what we do well. During times such as the 2015 holiday season, Lake Placid really shows the world what it can do in the face of adversity, just as the community did for the Winter Olympics. There were lack-of-snow issues during the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Winter Games, and it worried organizers so much that 1980 was the first Olympics to use artificial snow for its venues.

Thanks to the hard work of ORDA employees, who made snow at every opportunity, visitors were able to have a white Christmas of sorts at the Whiteface Mountain Ski Center in Wilmington this year. Even the Mirror Lake Inn made artificial snow on their Signal Hill site for guests.

Call this winter an El Nino year on steroids. Call it global warming. Whatever you call it, our local economy - based mostly on tourism - is dependent on creative solutions for hospitality as climate change continues to affect the weather patterns of the Earth.

We see the holiday season of 2015 as a dress rehearsal for tougher winters yet to come, and we're grateful Lake Placid's Plan B is now part of the hospitality game plan as we move forward.

Not only was there a master schedule of holiday activities for visitors to choose - like a menu - residents also embraced the situation, as they always do here in the Adirondack Park. Paddlers continued paddling, and boat rentals were available on Mirror Lake. Two tennis nets were re-erected at the municipal courts. Instead of dog sledding on Mirror Lake, sled operators gave rides on thin snow at the North Elba Show Grounds. Hikers continued hiking. Cyclists continued cycling. People were turning lemons into lemonade.

What was the alternative? The community could have easily said, "It is what it is," and accepted the fact that there won't be as many visitors during warmer winter days with little or no snow. That's the easy way out.

But Lake Placid didn't take the easy way out. It banded together, knowing full well the best defense is a good offense, and it took a proactive stance to the situation. The community went into survival mode. Making money - not to get rich but to simply pay the bills and put food on the table - is a great motivator. After all, local businesses rely on tourism between Christmas and New Year's for most of their income during the winter.

The only negative worth noting was the pouring of concrete at the new Main Street hot dog stand during the afternoon of New Year's Eve. The concrete truck caused traffic delays, took up valuable holiday parking spaces and shut down a portion of the sidewalk in front of neighboring businesses, upsetting those neighboring business owners who had a point when asking, "Who approves construction on Main Street during one of the busiest days of the year?" In the future, we'd ask village officials to ban construction activities on Main Street during busy days such as New Year's Eve.

All in all, we see 2015 as the beginning of a new tourism era in the Olympic Region, not one that we prefer but one we must embrace if we're going to survive. Just think of all the creative warmer-weather activities we could invent now that it's part of our consciousness, now that we know there has to be a Plan B on the shelf. We'll have a variety of activities for a variety of weather conditions we can pull out of our little bag of tricks.

Kudos to the community of Lake Placid for making 2015 one of the most memorable holiday seasons in our history, and thanks to all who made it a great success.

Happy new year!



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