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Artic golf heading to New York City

Winter carnival’s most unique and popular event becoming part of NYC Winter Jam

Contestants play Arctic Golf as part of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival. (Photo courtesy of Mark Kurtz)

SARANAC LAKE — Arctic Golf, one of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival’s most unique and popular events, will be going from a home grown, small town event to the big city as part of Central Park’s Winter Jam event on Jan. 28.

Not many people can say they’ve played miniature golf outdoors in the winter, except those who have at the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival. But now thousands of New York City’s residents and visitors from all over the world will get to experience this winter oddity during Winter Jam.

The NYC Parks Department contacted Colleen O’Neill, Arctic Golf creator and member of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Committee, in November after hearing about the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival’s Arctic Golf event. They expressed interest in creating a similar event to accompany their other winter sporting events at Winter Jam.

O’Neill shared her processes, lessons learned and experiences with the NYC Parks Department and they decided to recreate the Arctic Golf event at Winter Jam soon after.

O’Neill said about the collaboration, “I was excited that Central Park expressed interest in our Arctic Golf event to share with their residents and visitors. To think that Arctic Golf is going from far north in Upstate New York, in a small village in the Adirondack Mountains to the far south to one of the most populated cities in the state, the nation and the world! Though we’re far away and different in many ways from each other, we both have the same goal; to provide our community and visitors with enjoyment and the unique recreational activities that our great state has to offer.”

Arctic Golf offers those who enjoy miniature golf with an opportunity to play the sport outdoors in winter. Saranac Lake’s Arctic Golf event features a community built miniature golf course with nine creative obstacles built of snow and ice that are designed to pose a challenge for golfers.  All ages enjoy this fun and non-competitive event, and it draws hundreds of participants each year on the first Sunday of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival. 

“It’s a crowd pleaser and people are amazed at the fact that they can play mini golf in snow,” O’Neill said. “It’s an oddity thatthey tell all their friends and family about. We see the players taking pictures and videos as proof and for bragging rights on social media. It’s such a unique experience that not many people can say they’ve ever seen anything like it, never mind played it! I’m really looking forward to seeing New York City’s interpretation of Arctic Golf, and plan to be there to play a round of golf myself. It will certainly be a different view, with skyscrapers in the background instead of the Adirondack Mountains here in Saranac Lake’s background.

“Saranac Lake welcomes all of the New Yorkers that enjoy Central Park’s version of Arctic Golf to come up to see our version of Arctic Golf too! It’s only a small part of our 10-day carnival that includes many more events, and our majestic Ice Palace, which we build by harvesting ice blocks out of our lake. It’s a must see and another reason why Saranac Lake is so unique. We’re happy to share what we have here with the world.”

For more information about the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival, which will take place Feb. 3 through 12, visit www.saranaclakewintercarnival.com.

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