Each year St. Paul hosts a winter carnival. I’m pretty sure it was started just to prove that Minnesotans are tough and that we laugh in the face of winter. The carnival has been taking place since 1886 and is the oldest winter festival in the United States.
Back in the early days they built amazing ice palaces as part of the festivities such as this one from 1888.
Even as late as 1941 the palaces were pretty extravagant.
Unfortunately they no longer make anything like this. The last time we had a decently sized ice palace was 2004.
It was large, but certainly not as elaborate as some of those earlier models (I’m betting that there are more safety regulations these days!). Mr. Q and I did go see it that year along with about a bazillion other people.
This year since my sister and my niece are new to Minnesota they decided it would be fun to visit the winter carnival. So last Saturday we headed into St. Paul to check it out.
To be honest, this year’s ‘mini ice palace’ was looking pretty sad by the time we saw it. I didn’t even take any photos it was so pathetic. I did get a couple of photos of some ice sculptures though.
As a special bonus, we got to see a marriage proposal taking place in front of one of the ice sculptures. It was pretty sweet.
There is a fake legend that goes along with the winter carnival (you can read the full story here). The legend says that on the last day of the festivities Vulcanus Rex and his Krewe storm the ice palace and force King Boreas to give up his icy hold over his winter capital. Thus there is a Vulcan Victory Torchlight Parade on the final day.
Back in the day the Vulcan Krewe would kiss the girls along the parade route leaving smears of black grease paint on their face, but that custom has been toned down. These days they just use a grease paint crayon to leave their mark. I warned my niece Kris that pretty girls were obvious targets!
Hail the Vulc!
By the way, are you wondering what appropriate attire is for a winter carnival?
Down parkas of course!
Here’s hoping the Vulc’s have done their job properly and booted King Boreas off his throne! I am ready for a little less winter, how about you?