Despite record numbers of COVID deaths nationally, organizers of a new WinterFest are inviting tourists to visit Lake George’s bars and restaurants over four weekends of February according to an announcement sent to the press Tuesday.
Organizers of the Lake George Winter Carnival, which has been held since 1961, announced in November that their event was cancelled over concerns for the safety of volunteers and visitors. That Winter Carnival typically packs the village’s bars and restaurant and is a major boon for business owners.
“Each year the Lake George Winter Carnival provides our region with a much needed economic boost and provides a variety of events that lifts the spirit of thousands during our long winter,” Village of Lake George Mayor Blais said at the time. “We know and respect the many volunteers and understand and appreciate their decision.”
The new event, a response to the cancellation, is funded by Warren County. It has the support of the Town and Village of Lake George, Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce, and many of village’s restaurant and hotel operators.
“WinterFest is the new way to get outside and really enjoy the wide variety of family-oriented socially-distanced recreational opportunities in the Lake George region of the Adirondacks,’’ event organizer Christian Dutcher said in announcing the effort.
“Our hotels are open and welcoming visitors. Our restaurateurs will be serving up great February food and drink specials while maintaining safety precautions. Local beers will be on tap, local bourbons poured. The WinterFest wristband will be your ticket to safe winter fun,” he said.
As with the traditional Lake George Winter Carnival, many WinterFest activities will take place outside, including cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and fat tire mountain biking. Winterfest organizers are promoting outdoor hot chocolate stations and horse and carriage rides. Activities require online registration.
Event organizers addressed the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in their announcement of the new event. “The health and safety of our guests and community is paramount, and the WinterFest schedule is subject to change based on our response to COVID-19,” Dutcher said.
COVID-19 killed 3,239 people per day in the United States on average last week, more people than were killed on the September 11 attacks in 2001 – each day. Some 375,000 people have died, one in every 873 Americans. That number was about 275,000 on December 1, and is expected to rise to more than 567,000 by April 1, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).
The number of cases are currently surging, and there has been a corresponding rise in Warren County. There were more than 1.7 million new cases in the U.S. last week, up 17% from the previous seven day period.
Across Warren County some restaurants have been voluntarily ending dine-in service and returning to take-out service as cases surged over the last two weeks and more cases have been linked to patrons and staff.
According to Warren County Department of Health, two additional residents of the rural county died over the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 42.