'There's cold and there's Minnesota cold': Local events prepare for frigid conditions

Image 1 of 2

Expected low temperatures over the next couple of days come at a time when thousands of people plan to head outdoors.

Thursday is the kick-off for both the St. Paul Winter Carnival in St. Paul and the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships on Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis.

Winter Carnival

Even ice has its limits in the sort of cold expected in the region. Due to the extreme cold heading to Minnesota, organizers of the Winter Carnival have already postponed all the Friday activities at the Vulcan Snow Park at the State Fairgrounds.

Those activities are scheduled to go ahead Saturday morning instead.

Still, they are waiting to make a final decision about the other events kicking off the start of the carnival Thursday.

Ice carvers like Austin Greenleaf are hard at work preparing their masterpieces in anticipation for the event. Even with the negative double digit temperatures forecasted, it won’t compare to Greenleaf’s coldest competition in Alaska that clocked in at negative 50 degrees.

“You’ll use your tools to go into even touch the ice and it will start to shatter just because of how cold it is,” Greenleaf said.

President and CEO of the Winter Carnival Deb Schaber says 25 below actual temperature or windchill is the threshold they’ve traditionally used before adjustments to the schedule are made.

It’s possible that the opening night parade, which spans six blocks and attracts 500 people, could be a casualty of the cold. Additionally, the live band scheduled to perform may be moved inside the Landmark Center and the ice carving competition potentially postponed, too.

Pond Hockey Championships

“Obviously, our patrons and vendors are our top priority,” Schaber said. “As long as we can throw a safe event, that’s what we’ll do.”

Meanwhile, on Lake Nokomis, organizers of the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships don’t plan to change a thing.

With a record 350 teams and 40 percent of players coming from out of the state, everyone has been repeatedly emailed about the extreme cold.

“We do have some players that are coming in from Austrialia,” said Jim Dahline, of the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships. “That’, I’m sure it will be unique for them. And people just from outside Minnesota as well. There’s cold and there’s Minnesota cold and we are super excited because this is absolutely ideal conditions for us.”

Back in St. Paul, the irony isn’t lost on organizers. After having to truck snow out last year, this year it’s being trucked in from Afton Alps.

It’s all to celebrate winter and prove how adaptable Minnesotans can be.

“We’ve been saying the last few weeks, let’s bring on winter, because we needed the cold and the 40 degrees was not going to help us,” Dahline said. “So, we got what we wanted I guess.”

Winter Kite Festival

Organizers of the Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival also have some concerns ahead of their 18th annual celebration this weekend. 

Representatives of the festival said the ice is about 12 inches thick and the elements will make for a great time to fly kites. 

"It's actually nice this time of year," said Tom Godrey, a festival organizer. "There's a wind, like today, and that helps obviously to have wind for kite flying."