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Weather looks like it will cooperate for this year’s Winter Carnival

It’ll be cold enough and we have plenty of snow this year, so the St. Paul Winter Carnival should skate into town next week in seasonable fashion.

Last year, it started off way too warm; 40-degree temperatures melted the snow sculptures. But by the closing weekend, it was too cold, and organizers tried to cancel the Torchlight Parade. But Mayor Chris Coleman, usurping the powers of the reigning King Boreas, ordered that the parade must go on. It did, in an abbreviated fashion. A 25-below wind chill? No problem, said the mayor.

Winter fans can get a clue
Activities begin Sunday, when the first clue to the Pioneer Press Treasure Hunt is published. You can follow along in the newspaper and at, where the clues will be posted; you can also monitor some of the bulletin boards that hunters use to mark their progress and put forth theories on the location. I suspect some of those suggestions are disinformation designed to put neophytes off the scent. Some of those treasure seekers are ruthless.

They’re clever, too. Studying the clues for hidden nuance and meaning, they pore over past years’ results and consult maps and use GPS devices and keep in touch with cell phones and instant messages.

When a searcher found the medallion after just three clues last winter, the newspaper quickly organized a second hunt. A group found that one, too, just minutes before posting of the final clue.

And someone seeded the parks last year with at least two phony medallions. Frustration, vandalism, or part of the disinformation campaigns?

And we didn’t realize it at the time, but those were historic moments when the medallion prizes were awarded: $10,000 for the first finder and $5,000 for the group that found the second one. Par Ridder, then publisher of the Pioneer Press, handed over the checks. So much has changed …

Official carnival begins Jan. 23
The official carnival events kick off Wednesday, Jan. 23, with the opening of the hot dish tent near Rice Park in downtown. Thursday night is the coronation of a new King Boreas and Queen of the Snows, who reign over the festivities. Events run through Feb. 3.

Sponsors came up a little light in the fundraising this year, so the snow-sculpting contest originally was canceled. But this afternoon, officials announced that the Vulcans, the traditional bad boys of carnival festivities, are raising emergency funds to save the event. Snow block building will begin Sunday at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, with sculpting work the following weekend. The ice carvings, as planned, will be on display in Rice Park.

The Grande Day Parade is at 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26, with the Torchlight Parade at 6 p.m. Feb. 2.

New this year is an ice golf tournament on White Bear Lake on Jan. 26. (We hope it’s on, and not in, the lake.) Cost is $30, with proceeds to the local food shelf. Information at

This year’s carnival overlaps with the U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the Xcel Energy Center next week, so carnival organizers hope to impress the skaters and their fans, as well as garner some mentions on the national television coverage.

So bundle up, search for the medallion and find a spot to watch the parades. Because whatever the conditions, we can pretty much be assured that the show will go on. Which is a sight better than in Montreal, where their Winter Carnival was canceled this week. Because of labor woes. Or as they put it, “labour” woes.

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