After taking its popular Crashed Ice event out of St. Paul last year, Red Bull is returning to the capital city in a big way this fall.
Mayor Melvin Carter and snowmobile racer Levi LaVallee dropped out of an airplane at 12,000 feet and parachuted to Harriet Island on Tuesday morning to announce Red Bull’s Flugtag will come to St. Paul on Sept. 7.
Flugtag means “flying day” in German and involves teams competing to fly in handmade, human-powered aircraft. It was last held in St. Paul in 2010, when one team’s craft dropped off a 30-foot platform and glided 207 feet in what was a world record at the time.
Shortly before 11 a.m., Carter’s was one of four parachutes that could be seen swaying down through a clear blue sky above Harriet Island. He jumped in tandem with experienced Red Bull sky diver Sean MacCormac. LaVallee, too, jumped in tandem with another sky diver. It was the mayor’s first leap out of a plane, he said.
After his aerial arrival on Harriet Island, Carter shed his skydiving coveralls to reveal a gray suit underneath. “I just dropped in to make this announcement,” he said, smiling. “It’s not every day I get a new view of our city.”
The Flugtag has made 162 stops around the world since 1991 and entertains millions each year, Red Bull officials said. Its return to St. Paul comes after the hugely popular Crashed Ice, in which skaters raced down an ice-coated wooden track erected in front of the Cathedral of St. Paul, ended a seven-year local run that began in 2011.
Carter and Adam Johnson, vice president of marketing and media relations for Visit St. Paul, said they have been talking with Red Bull about ways to continue their relationship since the energy drink maker took Crashed Ice elsewhere.
“Red Bull and St. Paul have teamed up for nearly a decade to create unique, family-friendly events in our city,” Carter said. “I am thrilled to continue this partnership.”
Tens of thousands of fans are expected to attend the Harriet Island Flugtag.
Officials said 50 teams of five members each will be chosen to compete in the Flugtag. Applications are available at the event website and there is no cost to apply.
Participating teams will be judged not only by how far they fly — most simply plunge to the river beneath the platform seconds after “takeoff” — but will also be scored on their creativity and sportsmanship, a spokesman said.
June 26 is the application deadline.
Carter thanked MacCormac for getting him safely to the ground. He was asked if the experience was terrifying.
“The worst part of it was actually getting out [of the airplane],” Carter said. “After that, it was incredibly beautiful.”
Immediately after touching down, Carter could be seen talking on his cellphone. Who did he call?
“My wife,” he said. “To tell her I was safe.”