St. Paul Winter Carnival festivities merit a visit despite the chill

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In these times of searing cold when even rivers ominously freeze, what’s better than sipping a warm drink next to the heater in an enormous sweater? What’s good enough to make one brave a blizzard and sub-zero temperatures for more than 10 minutes?

Last weekend, I saw King Boreas in his sled, riding casually by with his wife, watching celebrations for the winter he had so graciously created. Boreas, a tribute to a fictitious Minnesotan legend, is annually elected in the St. Paul Winter Carnival to silence all those naysayers of 1896, who concluded that the cold could not possibly be amazing.

With ivy lining the entrance and hundreds of people bustling about, I felt transported to the mythical land of ancient Minnesota, a land full of magic and power, cliché as that sounds. Ice sculptures in intricate, fanciful patterns are chiseled for a king, as if the medium used was not flimsy ice but malleable clay. At the Landmark Center, in front of an archetypal palace-like library, we gazed at the quixotic art work made of detested, frostbite-inducing cold and felt warm inside with the joy of seeing something beautiful. As if gazing at dinosaurs, a “Dream Chaser,” “Aerial Aquatics” and a mermaid unicorn was not fascinating enough, King Boreas was overthrown.

The Vulcans, rulers of summer, dethrone Boreas, according to the story, bringing home the party in a stupendously long parade involving thousands of people in downtown St. Paul. The fête included a monkey on a unicycle, a marching band, multiple dancers and my favorite – immense beacons of fire bursting, like ripe grapes, into the sky. Obviously, the Vulcans messed up somewhere because Minnesota simply refuses to transition into summer. However, what they did do right was an amazingly-well coordinated and nuanced performance.

Despite the necessary flow of advertising by sponsors, the material was presented in an archaic, otherworldly way that was extremely interesting to read.

So I urge you, if next year, when we start another semester of college and it’s freezing outside, take the sane option – go enjoy Saint Paul’s Winter Carnival and the mountains of surrounding snow. The best part – the event is 100 percent free.

Remember any time from the 22nd of January to the 1st of February 2015 could be your moment to experience this bewitching festival and of course, make sure to bring your friends, roommates and even random people along to enter a “real” world, miles away from our own!