Naples Winter carnival

By Dawn De Busk
Staff Writer

NAPLES — Riding a snowmobile is a rush.

Add some competition — other riders trying to take the lead. Then, put it all on a well-designed ice track in the middle of a frozen lake. And, what have you got?

The Muddy River Sno Seekers Snowmobile club’s 12th Annual Radar Run, which takes place on Long Lake this Saturday and Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days.

Riding in the Radar Run “is a big adrenaline rush. Some sleds can go from 0 to 130 mph in 1,000 feet. It’s great,” said Naples businessman Dan Allen, who has raced in years past.

As chairman of the Naples Winter Carnival, Allen is too busy to compete in the event that draws hundreds of riders. Now, he has his eye on the bigger picture and the last-minute details associated with coordinating the carnival.

“This event has grown beyond a snowmobile event,” he said. “There are a lot of people involved in preparing for it. There are people who come just to watch. We’ll probably get a few hundred racers during the weekend.”

“The winter carnival is a good time to get out of hibernation,” Allen said.

“Naples goes to sleep in the winter. This gives people something to do,” he said.

The forecasted weather should be favorable for the snowmobile races — with four days in a row of below-freezing daytime highs and nighttime lows in the single digits, the ice will stay frozen. Likely, the cold air will help the formation of thicker ice on Long Lake.

“I’m looking forward to the cold,” Allen said, adding it will keep the ice track in good condition.

Also, the snowmobile club has put in a ramp at the end of the Naples Town Beach road. This fall, the club eyed the area to make plans for a ramp people could use to bring ice shacks onto the lake as well as snowmobiles, Allen said.

According to Allen, people on foot will find places to access the ice and enjoy the many activities taking place in conjunction with the carnival.

In addition, the American Legion Post No. 155 will provide parking and offer free shuttle rides to the Causeway, Allen said. The Legion is located off Route 11 in Naples for those who don’t want to spend time hunting for a parking spot.

Prior to the weekend of the carnival, crews working on the Causeway’s seawall will try to open up spaces for parking, according to Craig Hurd, Maine Department of Transportation’s resident engineer for the Bay of Naples Bridge and Causeway project.

“When Naples has its winter carnival, crews will move equipment. They can’t pack up, but they will do what they can to make some access to the lake and more room for parking,” Hurd said.

In addition to the wildly popular Radar Races, events will be taking place all day — on the ice and around town, according to Allen.

On Saturday, the gymnasium at the Naples Town Office will be open to serve hot cocoa and provide indoor games for children. That warming spot will not be available on Sunday.

Another treat that takes place only on Saturday: fireworks.

Organizers will start a bonfire on the lake around 4 p.m., and the fireworks show is slated for 6 p.m.

According to Naples Selectman Rick Paraschak nothing beats a fireworks display in the winter. With the crisper air and the darker sky, the colors appear more vivid, he said.

Allen agreed, “When they shoot the fireworks off on the snow-covered lake it’s a show you can’t describe. It’s absolutely gorgeous.”

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