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Saint Paul Winter Carnival adapts historic festival

It's perhaps a Christmas miracle that the annual festival is still open in a year of coronavirus closings.
Credit: KARE
"Aquaman Riding a Seahorse," by Chris Swarbrick and Austin Greenleaf. 1st place in Multi Block at the 2019 St. Paul Winter Carnival.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Planning is underway for a historic Twin Cities wintertime tradition. The Saint Paul Winter Carnival, the "Coolest Celebration on Earth," like so much of 2020, will be different in ways the original planners couldn't have imagined in 1886. 

Announced in a press release, the 2021 Carnival will be held January 28 through February 7. 

“The Winter Carnival was created in 1886 to show the world how Saint Paul embraces winter,” says Deb Schaber, President and CEO of the Saint Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation. “We believe we’ve created a schedule of events for our 135th anniversary that our Carnival creators would be proud of and our current day fans can enjoy safely. The majority of our 2021 events will be held outdoors and all will abide by COVID-19 required protocols such as social distancing and mask wearing.” 

Unfortunately, the traditional parade and events held in Rice Park will have to wait for next winter. Organizers say these staples had to be canceled because of concerns over crowd size. 

There are still plenty of events scheduled, and many are twists on the old favorites. 

The Minnesota State Fairgrounds are hosting a drive-thru version of the Ice Carving Competition and the Snow Sculpture Contest. From the comfort of a vehicle you can take in the frozen artwork, and still vote on your favorite. The Vulcans will manage the snow sculptures, and visits are expected from the Vulcans, Royal Family and Klondike Kates. 

Pop-up concerts, virtual and online events, and three different scavenger hunts will help us power through the Minnesota winter. Carnival organizers are also planning to bring back a carnival classic - the Winter Carnival Softball Tournament to be held on Saturday, February 6th, at a yet-to-be-announced Saint Paul ballfield. 

More information about things to see and do can be found at the Saint Paul Winter Carnival website.

2021 Winter Carnival buttons will be available beginning in December. This year Minnesota artist Adam Tuman created the four designs. 

Organizers say the Royal Family, Vulcanus Rex and his Krewe and Klondike Kate will reign for another year, as their 2020 was cut short by coronavirus. 

Volunteers are still needed for the winter celebration. Information about a donation of time can be found here, or by emailing volunteer@spfhf.org. 

RELATED: GLOW Holiday Festival to light the Minnesota State Fairgrounds