Want proof that longtime volunteer Lori Koutsky is dedicated to the St. Paul Winter Carnival?
She’s flying back from Palm Springs and its 75-degree temps just in time to join 110 volunteers for Saturday’s Securian Financial Winter Run. The Saturday forecast calls for a frosty 9 degrees in St. Paul. A series of races — a 5K, a 10K and a half-marathon — start at 9 a.m.
“We have embraced it at Securian,” said Koutsky, manager of Securian’s Community Relations and the Foundation. “We put our name on it; we want it to be really first rate.”
Organizers of the 133rd Winter Carnival say this year’s festival, which opens Thursday night and runs through Feb. 3, will unfold at three primary sites: Kellogg Mall Park and Landmark Center downtown and at the State Fairgrounds, home of the Vulcan Fire Castle, giant snowslide, snow golf and snow-sculpting competition. The move to Kellogg Mall Park is a one-year change, as the carnival’s traditional home of Rice Park is undergoing renovations.
Already, however, the best-laid carnival plans have changed because of a frigid Thursday forecast. The official kickoff, Thursday night’s Moon Glow Parade, which was to have started at 6 p.m. at Landmark Center, has been canceled. But the carnival will feature two other parades: The King Boreas Day Parade will be Saturday, starting at 2 p.m. Koutsky will be the Community Grand Marshal; Dave Dahl and Lindsey Brown of KSTP TV will be the media grand marshals and Twins great and local boy Joe Mauer will be the celebrity Grand Marshal. The final parade will be the Vulcan Victory Torchlight Parade, beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2, beginning near Mears Park in Lowertown.
Fireworks over Raspberry Island will follow the carnival’s traditional closing parade.
The expectation of extreme cold on Friday also prompted carnival officials to delay opening the Vulcan Snow Park at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. All activities at the snow park will now open starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 26, with the official 2019 Vulcan Krewe coming out at 10:30 a.m. The ice-carving competition, always a carnival favorite, will begin at 7 p.m. Friday at Kellogg Mall Park. The royal coronation of King Boreas, the Queen of the Snows and their court will be at 8 p.m. at St. Paul RiverCentre. The park will be home to live music, an ice bar, craft beers, cocktails and a huge warming tent throughout the carnival, which started in 1886.
This year’s festival also features the Minnesota Songwriter Showcase at Kellogg Mall Park on Thursday, Jan. 31, and Friday, Feb. 1. Lovers of dogs and beer are invited to bring their pooch to Hops and Hounds, on Sunday, Feb. 3, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Kellogg park.
Carnival officials are expecting 200,000 to 300,000 visitors during the carnival’s 11-day run.
For a complete schedule of St. Paul Winter Carnival events, go to www.wintercarnival.com.