Photo by M. Lisa Monroe
The Downs will rule over this year’s Winter Carnival.
By M. LISA MONROE
The Winter Carnival Committee has announced that the royalty for the 2017 Winter Carnival will be Al and Kirsten Down.
The theme this year is “An Adirondack Tradition: Old Forge Winter Carnival.”
The Downs have lived in Old Forge for 30 of their 40 married years. The pair met while they were at college in SUNY Brockport. Al Down liked Kirsten right away.
“She had long blond hair and big eyes,” Al Down said. “And we were hanging around with the same group of friends.”
Al Down grew up coming to Old Forge during the summer when he was a child. His family has had a camp in the area since the 1950s and those summer memories are some of his fondest, he said. They were living out west with their two kids, and then in Rochester, and Al Down was being transferred a lot. As their children got older and were getting to be kindergarten age, they knew that they wanted to settle in one spot.
“I wanted my kids to have all of the things that were available to me when I was growing up,” said Al Down.
“And we wanted a good school system, too,” Kirsten Down added.
When a job opened up at the Howard Johnson’s in Old Forge, Al Down took it, and they have been here ever since.
“It’s been awesome. It was a great decision,” Kirsten Down said.
They were very honored when the committee called to ask them to become the King and Queen of Winter Carnival, and surprised. The Downs said they thought there were other people who were more deserving of the kingdom. They said they have loved Winter Carnival since the days their kids were in the Polar Bear Ski Club and the couple helped out with the Snowflake Derby.
“I think its a great event for the community. It brings a lot of diverse members of our community together. It’s not just the ski people, everyone enjoys watching the kids jump and the fireworks. It’s a fun party,” said Kirsten Down.
Al Down added, “And the castle is always impressive.”
Al Down has skied his whole life and is no stranger to McCauley Mountain, having served on the McCauley Mountain Ski Patrol for more than 20 years.
“I like it. It’s a great group of guys and good camaraderie. When you have to go out to get someone it’s always a good team effort,” he said.
Skiing has been a big part of their lives, and they passed the love of the sport down to their children. Their daughter got married at ski resort.
“I walked her down the aisle in ski boots,” said Al Down.
The Old Forge Winter Carnival begins with a parade on Main Street on Feb. 10, an ice skating party will follow the parade. On Saturday, the coronation takes place, which is followed by torchlight skiing, daredevil ski jumpers, fireworks and a dance party in the chalet.
Al and Kirsten Down promise their future subjects a kind rule.
“Our reign will be benevolent, no iron fist,” Kirsten Down said.