Outhouses, ice cars at lake

Feb. 16 was like a three-ring circus here at the lake.

The morning was cold but clear and conditions were perfect for all the activities on the lake.

We had the usual ice fishermen and snowmobilers out on the lake between trails. But we also had our annual outhouse races and round three of the ice car races. Cars have been racing on Adirondack lakes for the past 60 years.

Hundreds of people, cars, trucks, trailers, snowmobiles and even cross country skiers were gathered on the lake in front of our house.

I include pictures Herman took of the races and crowds that gathered. We had hot drinks and food from local diners The Coffee Shop and Campers Corner Store.

Due to the cold morning start with temperatures in the single digits, some of the outhouse race crews didn’t show, but we still had enough participants for run-off heats.

The rules for the outhouse races are that five-person teams must include four pull-pushers and one seated passenger with appropriate tissue and reading material. The outhouse itself must be 4 feet square and 8 feet high on wooden skis. The rest of the design and decorations are up to the outhouse sponsors.

My personal favorite was the Pine Lake Stoves entry with a set of antlers mounted over the door. Seated inside was Ralph Ottuso, our town supervisor and owner of Pine Lake Stoves, where we happened to buy our heating units back when we built our house in 2001. One is a visible flame gas stove and the other is an air tight wood stove. Neither depends on electricity in case the power goes out.

I don’t have to go far or even get cold to enjoy all the goings on. This time the ice car race track was farther across the lake than it had been in the past, so it was harder to see because it was so far out in the distance.

The outhouse races were directly in front of Sherman’s on the ice. Because of that I wasn’t able to see them as they were way out to my right, so I had Herman take lots of pictures to show me back at the house.

I had never heard of an outhouse race until I moved to this area. To this day they seem very unusual to me, but very entertaining. It was so much fun watching everyone walking up and down our street. It is so desolate in the winter here, since I don’t have any neighbors on either side of our house until spring when it begins to warm up and the snow finally melts. I anxiously await warm temperatures so I can change my wardrobe and outlook, but the view will change as the lake thaws.

I look forward to being the first one in the lake this year again.

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in New York City and Los Angeles, now pursues free lance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns and contact information may be accessed at her Web site www.kathrynskorner.com.