What better way to shake the frost belt blues than to start making plans for picnics this summer? On Wednesday, St. Paul and Ramsey County will begin accepting park reservations for picnics, shelters or pavilions in 2013. Here's how you can get ahead of the crowd: St. Paul

City residents and businesses can get a jump on park reservations by first picking up a lottery number in person from 6 to 6:30 a.m. Wednesday at the park permit office, 1100 Hamline Av. N. Proof of residency must be established, either with a valid driver's license (individuals); letterhead, stationery or business card (businesses); or a state tax-exempt form (nonprofits).

Permits will begin to be issued at 6:31 a.m. Wednesday at the permit office to lottery customers first. After that, customers will be served on a first-come, first-served basis. No more than one reservation can be made per day by any individual or group, and phone reservations (651-632-5111) won't be taken until Thursday.

Nonresidents may apply for permits starting Feb. 1, which is also the date when St. Paul will take online reservations for shelters. Park permit office hours are 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays.

Ramsey County

Reservations for Ramsey County's picnic shelters and pavilions will be accepted in person on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 7 a.m. Wednesday. The reservations will be taken at the county Parks & Recreation Department office, 2015 N. Van Dyke St., Maplewood.

Starting on Thursday, the Parks Department will take reservations by phone, mail or at the office from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. Staff can be reached at 651-748-2500 or parks@co.ramsey.mn.us. The department website -- parks.co.ramsey.mn.us -- has additional information on the reservation policy, fees, ordinances, special use permits and unavailable dates.