There’s snow in the forecast and snow underfoot and snow slowly crushing every roof in the state.
So on Sunday afternoon, the mayors, city councils and bundled-up residents of the Twin Cities plan to meet in a park in St. Paul to throw as much of that snow at each other as they possibly can.
“Assemble your crew,” St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter announced on Twitter, challenging Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey to an intergovernmental snowball fight to celebrate the snowiest February in recent history.
Anyone can talk about the weather.
Minnesotans prefer to do something about it.
“The Twin Cities way is to embrace winter, to lean into the snow and have a ball — literally,” said Frey, answering the call to arms.
When life hands Minnesota snow, Minnesotans make snowballs. They shovel their neighbors’ walkways. They help push strangers’ cars out of snowbanks.
“Everyone is out there, rallying around a common cause, looking out for each other,” Frey said. “That’s exactly how we do it.”
Snow days are when we shine.
Up in Duluth, Lake Superior was frozen fast to the snowy shoreline.
Local artists Jim Richardson and Max Moen grabbed their shovels and went to work, carving out space for the People’s Free Skate Rink, a twisty course that winds and loops across the thick ice sheets off Leif Erickson Park.
“It’s been a joy and a wonder to watch,” said Richardson, who’s known around town as the Lake Superior Aquaman. Volunteer shovelers kept the course clear, visitors came on skates and on foot, people brought chairs, and musicians brought instruments for an impromptu concert.
“When there are a lot of people out there, it takes on a real carnival atmosphere,” he said. “Maybe a third of the people have skates on. Most people are down there to enjoy the view.”
At their backs, icy Lake Superior stretches to the horizon like a frozen desert, he said. Ahead are the cliffs and soaring bridges and twinkling city lights of Duluth.
“At night, towards dusk, it’s all lit up,” Richardson said. “The city lights shine on the ice and turns the ice pink.”
The People’s Rink wasn’t built to last. Fresh snow could erase all the volunteers’ hard work. High winds could crack the ice to pieces. It was built to be enjoyed for one wild, wonderful moment — one perfect Duluth day — by Minnesotans who know that winter is there to be enjoyed.
Across Duluth, they’re ice skating, climbing ice walls, clearing improvised outdoor curling rinks and adapting their winter commutes to skis and snow shoes.
“We are fully, 100 percent fun in the winter,” said Duluth Mayor Emily Larson. “The ice on the beach is awesome. This weekend, my husband and I are going to go down and walk the beach. It’s got layers of ice that are so beautiful, so blue. Hopefully afterward, I can talk him into some outdoor curling.”
“Minnesota endures snowiest February on record,” the out-of-state headlines lamented.
Down in New Ulm, they were planning the parade.
German Mardi Gras is coming up, and St. Patrick’s Day isn’t long after that.
“If you come and visit us and we don’t have a party going on, let us know and we’ll start one,” said New Ulm Mayor Bob Buessman.
This year’s Fasching celebration — Mardi Gras, but with more Hermann the German — will fall on March 2, the same day as the Schell’s brewery Bock Fest, so there’s no danger of anyone running low on beer.
Buessman, like his constituents, met February’s record snowfall with a shrug, a grin and a quick check to make sure his snowblower was gassed up.
“That’s what makes life fun in New Ulm,” he said. He and his neighbor, he said, have a bit of a competition going to see who can get into snow-clearing clothes faster after a snowfall.
After last week’s big snow, he said, he cleared his walkway and drive, then an ailing neighbor’s. Then he headed around back to help out a local doctor and worked late shifts. After he cleared her path, he spotted a nearby house buried in drifts.
“I thought, ‘Well, long as I’m here. No big deal,’ ” said Buessman, who cleared that walkway too. It turns out the home’s owner was recovering from surgery and couldn’t shovel.
“We help each other out. This is the way the whole city is,” Buessman said. “Is that German? Is that New Ulm? Is that Minnesota? I’m going to say that’s Minnesota Nice with a German touch.”
The Snowball Battle of 2019 starts at 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon at Como Regional Park’s McMurray Athletic Fields, 1151 Wynne Av., in St. Paul. There will be a matchup for the elected officials, one for the 12-and-under set, and a general snowball throwdown for the rest of us.
Assemble your crew.