The town was busy but not overcrowded. Cars filled almost every parking spot. Restaurants were busy and local businesses thrived. The parade sputtered down Main Street, as parades often do, with much fanfare and exuberance. It was an event for locals … by locals. The evening ended with fireworks over Main Street — paired with the local radio station’s blasting out Lee Greenwood from speakers and celebrating the holiday.
It was the perfect 4th of July experience.
Are we talking about Park City, Utah? No, it’s another Olympic town. Lake Placid, NY.
This was the first year I didn’t attend Park City’s July 4th festivities in over a decade. My typical PC experience is gathering the family, hopping on our e-bikes, and riding from Jeremy to Main Street for the parade at 11 AM. We’ll try to get to the white barn by 10:45 to see the jets flying overhead. After the parade, we will hit City Park, head home, and go to Canyons for fireworks later in the evening.
Instead, this July 4th, I was in Lake Placid, New York, for my kid’s hockey camp. They do July 4th differently in Lake Placid. They have a horse show in the morning. The parade down Main Street starts at 5 PM. Fireworks begin at 9:30.
Perhaps more importantly, Lake Placid was actually pleasant on the 4th. It was balanced. Yes, there are probably more people than they normally get in Lake Placid. Businesses likely thrive off of tourism, but it doesn’t feel like the town is trying to pack every last person in.
The town was busy but not overrun. The parade was a small-town affair most would enjoy. For the fireworks, my son and I sat on a hill overlooking Main Street with a handful of others. We arrived about 5 minutes before the activities started. The local radio station entertained us by playing songs synced to the fireworks launching over the town.
It was so “small town,” and Lake Placid Nailed it.
I love Park City, but when I see a similar town providing a much better experience, I stop and wonder why. My first thought is that Park City is just bringing in as many people as possible. It may also be because Park City can’t figure out how we escape the trap they’ve created.
I don’t have the answer, but if you find yourself in upstate New York on July 4th, I would spend an evening in Lake Placid. You won’t be disappointed. You’ll also likely wish Park City had more of the Lake Placid Miracle.