Midwest Living Review
Many Minnesotans complain and curse about winter seemingly every day from the December solstice to the March equinox except for 11 days when thousands gather to cheer the snow, create art from ice, and spend quality time outdoors with parades and partying. Then the streets of downtown St. Paul bustle with winter frivolity, including a public ice-skating rink, lavish parades, music and dancing, outdoor bars carved out of ice that serve winter ales, and glittering ice sculptures that remind us of the beauty of the season. Rice Park is transformed into a Christmas tree garden with thousands of twinkling lights. And mischievous Vulcans -- men clad in red suits and black ski goggles -- run about the carnival, marking a black V on the cheeks of those willing to show their allegiance to a warmer season around the corner. "The Winter Carnival defines us as northern people," says Bob Olsen, a longtime carnival organizer. Thousands rekindle the fun they had as kids playing in the snow. And yet, the crowd cheers the Vulcans at the week's end as they storm the grand staircase of the St. Paul Library and overthrow Boreas, king of the winter winds. A celebratory fireworks show ensues.