"God Bless the Dream, the Dreamer and the Result." 

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

St. Paul Winter Carnival

Written by: Robert O'Connor
Edited by: Kate Kliner
Joboja Staff Writers

According to the Legend, King Boreas, King of the Winds designated St. Paul as the capitol of his realm, as the "winter playground of the realm of Boreas." Each year, a King Boreas and Queen of the Snows are crowned, with nominees picked from their fraternal organizations. This year it was Bill Foussard, a hotel businessman, who was crowned King. Brooke Stoeckel, a sales manager, was crowned Queen. There are many other crowned positions like Prince and Princess of the North Wind, East Wind, South Wind and West Wind.

This year, the U.S. Figure Skating Championship was held alongside the carnival, which was a nice matchup, I think. And like every year there was a snow-sculpting contest, although it took place at the State Fair Grounds rather than where it usually takes place, in Como Park.

I drove by Como Park every day to get to high school, and I remember seeing those enormous slabs of snow sitting there days before the carnival, waiting to be carved. There also used to be an ice-fort nearby, which was similar to a hedge-maze, except you couldn't cheat by shearing your way through.

The blocks of snow used for sculpting were brought out days before the carnival would start, and I remember one year there wasn't an inch of snow on the ground. The grass was still visible and it was brown and ugly. And they still brought out these enormous chunks of snow for the carnival. It finally did snow, just in time for the carnival, but I'll always remember the odd contrast of preparations for a winter carnival despite a lack of snow (maybe everyone prayed extra-hard for snow on the first day). Even ABC News took notice, especially since everyone else was being hit by a huge snowstorm at the time, not unlike the one that came through Chicago last week.

Every once in a while, St. Paul has had long stretches of winter where there is no snow on the ground. I remember a handful of Christmas's and New Years where there wasn't an inch of snow. I'm sure it's happened here, but people from Minnesota and especially the Twin Cities make a point of talking about how cold it is during the winter and how much snow we get. So far, everyone believe's what we've told (I once had an airport screener in Cleveland jokingly tell me that the forecast in Minneapolis was "colder than here.")

Don't get me wrong, we DO get lots of snow and the temperatures are amazingly low every year. We just exaggerate how much we get so tourists will be wary of coming (if they came, they'd never leave!). Sometimes I just pull my descriptions out of that old bag of "when I was your age I had to go to school in 20 feet of snow uphill both ways."

There are brief times when we enjoy tourists, however. The St. Paul Winter Carnival is one of those times. After all, we're just trying to reassure everyone that it's not so bad in a cold climate. You can even have fun and celebrate it. The whole thing started after a reporter described the place as an uninhabitable tundra. It is that cold, but there's no point in complaining if you don't go south for the winter, so why not have some fun!

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