Laughing in the face of mid-January cold, the Washington County Historical Society is holding its annual old-fashioned Winter Ice Cream Social from noon-4 p.m. on Jan. 18 at downtown Stillwater’s Mulberry Point, at the end of Mulberry Street on the St. Croix riverfront.

The public is invited and encouraged to wear historic garb appropriate for the occasion.

“We might see some interesting lumberjack outfits that have been in the attic for decades,” said Brent Peterson, the society’s executive director. “We don’t expect too many vintage swimsuits, but you just never know.”

Peterson came up with the idea when he discovered some old photographs of past winter ice cream socials from the 1950s. “When you see these old photos, everyone looks like they were having so much fun, despite the cold. It was a true celebration of Minnesota winter, so we just decided to try it ourselves in the 21st century.”

Back in 1950, Stillwater businessman Gib Larson of Snow­land Foods as well as other business people held the first winter ice cream social at the St. Croix Boom Site. Even though temperatures were well below zero, more than 1,000 people came out and enjoyed the ice cream and the season.

The event was moved to Lowell Park the next year, and later to Lily Lake. The event was sponsored at that time by the Jaycees and eventually faded away like winter into springtime.

“This event brings together our history and the community,” Peterson said. “What a great way to celebrate the place where we live, enjoy our neighbors, have fun with all the snow and eat ice cream to boot.”

The ice cream, cones and chili will be provided by Leo’s Grill & Malt Shop. The event is also sponsored by the Stillwater Convention & Visitors’ Bureau. The ice cream is free to everyone; there will be a nominal charge for the chili.

There will be a bonfire going to keep the family warm, and if the weather is favorable, Aamodts will bring a hot air balloon and have it tethered for all to sneak a peek. The History Hound, from the Minnesota Historical Society, will also make an appearance.

The event is free to the public, and donations to the Washington County Historical Society will be accepted. For more information, call the Historical Society at 651-439-5956 or visit www.wchsmn.org.

marine on st. croix

43rd annual ski race planned at park

The 43rd annual Marine/O’Brien Ski Race will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Jan. 26 at William O’Brien State Park, 16821 O’Brien Trail N., Marine on St. Croix.

Organizers plan 12- and 25-kilometer races in both classical and freestyle, and an 8-kilometer wooden ski tour that starts with the classic race. Children’s races with age-appropriate distances will start at 1 p.m. All abilities are welcome to participate.

The costs are: children, pre-registration $8, race day $12 (maximum per-family kids race $20 pre-registration/$30 race day); ages 5 and under, free pre-registered, $12 race day; high school/college, $12 pre-registered, $17 race day; adults, $30 pre-registered, $40 race day; wood ski tour, $15 pre-registered, $25 race day.

For additional questions, e-mail Everett Myers at everett@fruitshare.com, or call 651-433-0500.

white bear lake

Plans in the works for Polar Bear Plunge

Teams can now register for the annual Polar Bear Plunge fundraiser for the Special Olympics. The plunge takes place starting at noon on Jan. 25 at Ramsey Beach, 5050 Lake Ave. N., White Bear Lake.

The event raised more than $306,000 last year. To register, go to www.plungemn.org.

Pre-plunge check-in is from 3-7 p.m. Jan. 24 at Jimmy’s Food & Drink, 1132 E. County Road E., Vadnais Heights, and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 25 at the plunge site.

Shuttles for spectators and participants will run from Jimmy’s and Eagle Brook Church, 2401 Buffalo St., White Bear Lake.

cottage Grove

Skate night on pond set at city park

The 6th annual Skate Night at Highlands Park Pond will take place from 5-8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10, at the park, 70th Street and Idsen Avenue, Cottage Grove.

The event is free, and there will be free hot cider and cookies. The park building, with bathrooms, will be open across the street. There is also a sledding hill nearby.

Jim Anderson