A St. Paul crowd braved freezing weather Saturday night in Rice Park to witness the unveiling of the four 2015 Winter Carnival buttons.
Members of the Winter Carnival royal family, Vulcans, Klondike Kates and other legendary figures helped kick off the grand opening of “the Coolest Celebration on Earth.”
“The idea behind Winter Carnival is really to give people a reason to bundle up, and get out and about, and enjoy all that Minnesota has to offer,” said Rosanne Bump, president of the St. Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation, which runs the event.
This year’s buttons include one fan favorite of the carnival’s legendary cast, depicting King Boreas, Aurora Queen of the Snows, Vulcanus Rex and Klondike Kate. The other three designs showcase snowman building, sledding and the St. Paul skyline.
Chad Peterson, a local freelance artist and longtime Winter Carnival Ice Carving Contest competitor, designed the buttons for the third year in a row. Peterson has won several ice carving competitions in the team and individual categories.
Winter Carnival buttons and other festival merchandise went on sale immediately after the 5:30 p.m. unveiling, which took place on the skating rink. Buttons cost $5 for one and $19 for the collector’s pack of four distinct designs.
They will also be sold at Cub Foods, SuperAmerica stations, on the carnival’s website and about 30 other metro-area retailers. Buttons are the biggest source of fundraising for the carnival and provide discounts, such as a free ride on the snowslide.
A new website, www.winter-carnival.com, launched last week to improve user navigation and access to the event schedule.
“It should be a lot easier for people to find what they’re looking for: where to park, how to move about, where the event sites are,” said Bump, who encouraged residents to call if they encountered any issues on the site.
A tree lighting and winter skate kicked off the unveiling ceremony in the downtown St. Paul park near the corner of Fifth and Market Streets.
The 129th St. Paul Winter Carnival runs from Jan. 22 to Feb. 1. Events will mostly be held in downtown St. Paul in and around Landmark Center and Rice Park, and at the State Fairgrounds.
Guests should expect some new events at this year’s carnival, such as a frozen beanbag tournament and a snow park for kids at the fairgrounds. Officials are also looking to add an outdoor soccer tournament with the Minnesota United team, Bump said.
The Moon Glow pedestrian parade will officially kick off festivities Jan. 22, while a Torchlight parade and fireworks will cap the event Jan. 31, with skating and other activities wrapping up Feb. 1.
The carnival, which has a budget of $700,000, has been held annually since the end of World War II and is ranked as one of the top winter festivals in North America. Annual attendance averages about 300,000.