Saranac Lake Winter Carnival pins are on sale now for 2012, and this year, for the first time, they are accompanied by a special poster designed by Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau, who grew up in Saranac Lake and has created a pin for every Carnival since 1981.
And man, does this poster look fabulous - so fabulous that, given the 2012 Carnival theme of "Space Alien Invasion," it takes a tremendous struggle (one worthy of Capt. James Kirk vs. some hostile alien) to resist calling it "out of this world."
This year's pin (or button, as many people call it) can't be properly described alone; one has to get into the poster as well - a clever built-in ploy to sell more posters.
As you can see here, the pin depicts Zonker Harris wearing a space suit and carrying a blaster pistol, staples of the action-sci-fi genre. He's turning to face something that, to judge by his facial expression, must be horrible, but what is it? Viewers of the pin alone can only wonder.
The poster tells the whole story. Viewers get to see the reptilian alien with saliva dripping from its teeth as it crawls out of its spaceship, which has just crashed in a snowy field in a landscape like the Adirondacks. But wait, one wonders, if they're on Earth, as they seem to be, why is Zonker wearing a spacesuit? And then one reminds oneself, "Oh yeah, this is camp. Suspend a little disbelief already." Maybe that's just what hero astronauts wear to stay warm, wherever they are.
If we may wager a minor quibble - maybe another character next time, Garry, just to mix it up a little? Zonker's been on every pin since 2007.
But set that aside; this poster is pure awesomeness - worthy of a 1950s paperback cover. We love every year's pin, but we dare say this poster is the best-looking piece of Carnival art Mr. Trudeau has created in his 30 years on this job.
Five hundred posters were printed on high-grade paper, 16 by 20 inches, and 400 unsigned ones are being sold for $15 each at the chamber of commerce and some local shops. Mr. Trudeau signed 100, and they're going for $50 each. If you want one, check out www.saranaclakewintercarnival.com. One signed poster will be raffled as well.
Meanwhile, Carnival pins cost $3 each and are available at businesses all over Saranac Lake. And the Carnival Committee is also selling calendars with photos of past ice palaces for $13 each.
This stuff is worth every penny of those prices, but more importantly, all the proceeds go to put on the Carnival itself. This brilliant local event lost its big sponsors when the economy busted, and planners are learning how to collect smaller amounts from more sources.
The 114th annual Winter Carnival is scheduled for Feb. 3 to 12. We hope to see you there.