One story says the Saint Paul Winter Carnival was started to celebrate the city’s boom from 39,000 residents in 1880 to 120,000 residents just six years later, in 1886.
The most popular story claims the business leaders of Saint Paul wanted to disprove a New York newspaper reporter who had described their beloved city as “another Siberia, unfit for human habitation in the winter.” This is my favorite version because if true, Saint Paul created one of the most all-out unique experiences for Minnesotans to snub the reporter’s claims. Today Winter Carnival is a combination of winter sports, mystic lore and odd contests that make the event something close to winter mardi gras.
Celebrating 125 years, the Saint Paul Winter Carnival kicked off over a beautiful, crisp weekend. I went out with my iPhone set to the Hiptamatic app to capture the ice sculptures, parade and experience downtown Saint Paul on a winter’s day, just as the founders intended.
The Drum and Bugle Corps of Osman Shrine has been a force in the Saint Paul community since 1921.
Egyptian sarcophagus ice carving is a crowd favorite.
125 year celebration wall of ice with photographs from past year events embedded into the sculpture.
Ice carving is serious business, and you can even watch the sculptures take share, right on the grounds in Rice Park.
Ever been to a cat show? Me neither. But it’s par for the course at the Winter Carnival. This guy was pooped and ready to go home for the day.
Built in 1902, Landmark Center was the federal courthouse and post office in Saint Paul. Today she’s a lovely restored building with office space, a book store and cafe. She’s also a warm respite when the outside elements have numbed your toes during the Carnival.
While warming up with hot cocoa in Landmark Center, check out the ice castle display. Ice castles were once a main attraction of the Carnival, and model replicas with advertising from the era are fun to look at. The last castle built was erected for the 2004 Winter Carnival.
Ice thrones are a popular photo op.
Such detailed work on this Minnesota trees ice sculpture.
Saint Paul’s version of Central Park, there is an skating rink placed across the street from the Saint Paul Hotel every winter.
The Collection Close Up
St. Paul Winter Carnival souvenir medallion featuring the 1887 Ice Palace and highlighting winter sports. The text on the front reads, “ST. PAUL ICE PALACE & WINTER CARNIVAL / 1887.” The back features five winter scenes and four symbols of winter sports. The text on the back reads, “CITY OF ST. PAUL / INCORPORATED MARCH 4 1854.” Manufacturer unknown, 1887.
The Rollicking Realm of Boreas: A Legend…As told to Minnesota Children as the North Wind Roars Across Boreas’ Realm.
Patrick Coleman, Acquisitions Librarian, says: “You don’t know the Winter Carnival until you have read this.” It is a charming telling of the mythology behind Carnival, written by Frank Madden (Boreas Rex of the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, 1937) and published in 1941. It ends:
“You have cheered them mightily, Good Boreas,” said the Queen, “The ten days of Carnival you have proclaimed have been abundantly fulfilled. Health and vigor you have imparted to them, joy you have brought them, Boreas – is it not best that my good people enjoy these beneficent blessings and return to the pursuit of their labors?”
He agrees, and returns to Olympus.
Here’s to the end of winter!
St. Paul Winter Carnival button features King Boreas, the St. Paul skyline, and the Minneapolis skyline. The button reads, ” ‘HI, NEIGHBOR!’ ‘ / 1953 / SAINT PAUL / WINTER CARNIVAL / JAN.30 thru FEB.8 ~ Manufacturer unknown, 1953.