Not so long ago, in a land of ice and snow, a pair of Winter Carnival royalty fell in love.

He, Charlie Hall, 80, was King Boreas in 1983. She, Dorothy Furlong, 75, was Aurora, Queen of the Snows, in 1955.

They will be married Saturday in downtown St. Paul as part of the 125-year-old winter celebration. To the best of anyone's knowledge, no nuptials between an Aurora and Boreas have occurred.

For decades, Hall and Furlong have been a part of the Winter Carnival, from building ice castles to working on committees to sitting on the board of directors.

They knew each other casually for years, and were married to other people. He was married nearly 60 years, she for 47.

Furlong's husband, Lawrence Furlong, died in 2004. Hall's wife, Ceil Hall, died of cancer about a year ago.

The royal romance commenced last spring.

Hall missed some 2010 Winter Carnival events and in March called some folks to apologize. One of those people was Furlong.

They had a chat, during which it became known they both enjoyed playing bridge. Hall suggested they meet for dinner and talk about strategy for playing as a team. Another couple came with them. The next day, Hall and Furlong played cards.

Bridge games turned into dinners, and dinners turned into long talks, lots of talks. There were dinner parties and gatherings with children and grandchildren.

By midsummer, they knew they had something special.

"It was a short time, but we don't have a lot of time left," Furlong said. "We don't have 50 years we can spend together -- I doubt it anyway."

A clever man, this Hall, he crafted his proposal in September. He took Furlong to Rudy's Redeye Grill in White Bear Lake, where they had their first dinner together.

After they ate, a bouquet of roses was delivered to the table, accompanied by a card. Written on the envelope: "If the answer is no, don't open this."

Curious, Furlong opened the envelope to find a note -- written on her stationery -- with a request of marriage. She said yes, much to the pleasure of her suitor.

The news excited another former Winter Carnival king, who was in on the proposal plan. A king and a queen! A wedding! Winter Carnival! Downtown St. Paul!

Just like that, it became so.

The couple will exchange vows at 2 p.m. among ice sculptures, evergreens, carnival folks and anyone else who wants to watch. He will walk from the Landmark Center, escorted by former kings. She will walk from the St. Paul Hotel, escorted by former queens.

They shall unite in Rice Park.

He will don his King Boreas regalia. She will wear a fur coat over an ivory long-sleeve wedding dress that she made for her youngest daughter 13 years ago (no train, because she feared it would get too dirty).

The Klondike Kates, a former queen and others will sing. There will be white cake with buttercream frosting for all, and the couple will be in the Torchlight Parade at 5:30 that evening.

The parade will culminate in the overthrow of the current King Boreas and his royal court by the fiery Vulcan Krewe -- winter giving way to warmth.

In an instance of life imitating legend, the newlywed couple also will flee. "We're leaving for a balmy vacation spot," Hall said.

But as sure as the seasons change, they'll return to the land of ice and snow for yet another Winter Carnival next year.

Chris Havens • 612-673-4148