Minnesotans Embrace the Cold at St. Paul Winter Carnival

Updated: 01/23/2014 11:26 AM KSTP.com By: Steve Patterson

Crews were hard at work in St. Paul's Rice Park Wednesday, putting some of the finishing touches on what will be a major hub of activity at this year's Winter Carnival.

This year, the famous ice bar is in no danger of melting during the festivities- a perk of the bitter cold.

At its heart, cold is what the Winter Carnival is all about. As the legend goes, a scathing review of the Minnesota winter was written by an east coast writer back in the 19th century. Not exactly good press for a growing state. But undaunted, Minnesotans replied by telling the rest of the country that they don't just tolerate winter- they celebrate winter.

This year's Winter Carnival will be no different. Organizers expect a crowd of 350,000 folks ready to brave the cold to enjoy the great outdoors. Ice sculptures, parades, the ice bar and more await those who venture out. And of course the legend of King Boreas and Volcanus Rex will take center stage before it's all through.

Mark Salmen, a Vulcan Krewe member and Winter Carnival historian, spoke with KSTP to address the amazing longevity the annual outdoor activity has enjoyed. His answer for why the festival, which first started back in 1886, has lasted as long as it has was simple, "I think because it's exciting because we have a legend and we are actually putting on a play for the whole world."

Those who come to enjoy it all play out will help provide an economic shot in the arm, too. It's estimated that the Winter Carnival will generate between $3.5 and $5 million in economic activity for the City of St. Paul.

Click here to watch historical footage of the Winter Carnival back in 1916.