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Images of the Saint Paul Winter Carnival

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Once again, our Collections are featured in the Huffington Post, and just in time for the end of the Saint Paul Winter Carnival!

To see more images like the one below check out our newest post, Saint Paul Winter Carnival!

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Saint Paul Winter Carnival Royalty, 1978

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

On a January evening in 1978, young women dressed all in white began arriving at the St. Paul Municipal Auditorium. They were the Royal Princesses of the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, all hoping to be crowned Queen of the Snows. The gilded, cavernous Auditorium had been transformed into the Great Hall of Jupiter for the coronation ceremony. King Boreas had been crowned and on this night a Queen would be chosen to represent the City in the coming year.

Auditorium, St. Paul, before the addition. Ca. 1922

St. Paul Winter Carnival ceremonies at auditorium, St. Paul. Ca. 1948

Donaldson's Golden Rule, Seventh and Robert, St. Paul. Ca. 1966

Donaldson's Golden Rule, Seventh and Robert, St. Paul. Ca. 1966

The Princesses had been preparing for months. In the fall of the previous year, Donaldson’s Department Store began an internal selection process for for their own store-sponsored representative. As many as nine single women, aged 18 to 25, were nominated internally and judged on personality, poise, maturity, and walk. By late Fall, Donaldson’s had selected their candidate.

Marlene Richter had taken a position at Donaldson’s a few years earlier and joined in the store’s 1978 Winter Carnival competition in order to expand her social horizons. A University of Minnesota chemical engineering student, Marlene hoped that participating in the Winter Carnival competition would create opportunities to meet new people, outside of the the men surrounding her at school.

Saint Paul Winter Carnival Queen of the Snows coronation gown. Ca. 1978

Once she was selected as Donaldson’s Winter Carnival candidate, Marlene began preparing with the manager of the women’s wear department. Candidates and sponsors were responsible for providing a formal white coronation gown. The hunt for the perfect gown took the two women to a bridal shop in Rosedale Mall, where they found a two piece formal dress complete with lace and marabou feather trim that fit Marlene beautifully, straight off the rack.

Saint Paul Winter Carnival King Boreas uniform. Ca. 1978

On coronation night, Marlene and the other candidates stood under the hot lights of the Auditorium stage, nervous and excited. When the Grand Chamberlain bowed before Marlene, it took a moment for her to realize the choice was made; she would be Queen of the Snows. King Boreas (Dan Dolan), in his own imposing red uniform complete with gold braid and white gloves, crowned the new queen. The rest of the evening passed in a blur of activity; from a reception at the Radisson hotel on Kellogg Boulevard and back to a women-only suite at the St. Paul Hotel, where the remaining princesses would be outfitted with matching gold gowns to differentiate between Queen and Princesses.

SPWC Royal Coronation at the St. Paul Auditorium, 1978. Courtesy of Marlene Killa

Queen of the Snows Marlene Richter, 1978. Courtesy of Marlene (Richter) Killa

The Royal party would appear at the annual parade and other events during Carnival in St. Paul, but their duties did not end there. As Snow Queen, Marlene made about 400 appearances throughout 1978, following the Carnival tradition of spreading St. Paul hospitality across the state and the nation. She was part of the last group of Carnival royalty to participate in the Rose Bowl Parade in California, on a float with Minneapolis Aquatennial royalty. She wore her coronation gown to many of these events, but wore at least eight other dresses throughout the year.

Marlene’s reign ended with the passing of her crown at the 1979 King Boreas coronation event. The Winter Carnival experience was all she had imagined and more. Donaldson’s sponsorship not only financed the wardrobe and other costs associated with Carnival, but enabled Marlene to travel extensively. Her social hopes were also realized; she created lasting friendships with the royal party and met Michael Killa, a member of the 1978 Royal Guard. Marlene and Mike later married.

SPWC Royal Party, 1978. Courtesy of Marlene Killa. Michael Killa is 3rd from the right in the top row

After her time in Carnival, Marlene (Richter) Killa would go on to earn an MBA and spend twenty-two years as an engineer at Ecolab, a St. Paul-based multinational developer and manufacturer. For the past decade she and her husband Mike have worked together on their own construction company. Marlene and Mike took part in Saint Paul Winter Carnival activities for years following 1978: Marlene served as a judge for the 1980 Queen of the Snows competition and was active with the Former Queen’s Club for many years. Mike served as Captain of the Guard in 1986 and both were active with the Royal Party that year.

Sondra Reierson, Associate Curator, 3D Objects

See more:

  • Saint Paul Winter Carnival guide to related MNHS collections, including photographs and artifacts.
  • St. Paul Auditorium photographs. The Auditorium was razed in 1982; Ordway Theater was partially constructed on the original site of the Auditorium, beside the Roy Wilkins Auditorium.
  • In 1961 Donaldson’s, a Minneapolis company, merged with the Golden Rule department store in St. Paul and changed the store’s name to Donaldson’s a few years later. The St. Paul location remained in the Golden Rule building until 1980, when it moved to the Town Square complex. The original building still stands at 85 7th Place East, St. Paul.
  • Ecolab, Inc. records

Artifacts referenced:

  • Saint Paul Winter Carnival Queen of the Snows coronation gown <2014.162.1.A,B> Two piece white formal gown worn by Marlene (Richter) Killa as the 1978 Saint Paul Winter Carnival Queen of the Snows.
  • Saint Paul Winter Carnival King Boreas uniform <1988.396. and 1998.413.> Jacket, pants, hat, gloves and scepter used by Daniel F. Dolan as the 1978 Saint Paul Winter Carnival King Boreas.
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“Melting Ice Palace”

Friday, March 14th, 2014

“Melting Ice Palace”

The 1947 St. Paul Winter Carnival Ice Palace melting during warm weather, January 27, 1947.

Photographed by a Minneapolis newspaper photographer on January 27, 1947.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this photograph in our collections database.

(Note: The comments section has been temporarily disabled while we upgrade the website. You can always leave comments on our Flickr Photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/minnesotahistoricalsociety/)

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Weather or Not: Winter in Minnesota

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

As Minnesotans, we love to talk about the weather. Talk about it, obsess over it, live in it, love it. Or love hating it, at least. Since the Saint Paul Winter Carnival and Crashed Ice start soon, we thought this a good time to look at a variety of winter weather from images and film in our Collection, including an Easter snowball fight, winter swimming, -20 degrees, and blizzards. Enjoy the misery of others and maybe watch it again come July!

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Produced by Sondra Reierson

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History on Ice!

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Ice skating has long been part of Minnesota’s identity and winter traditions. In this podcast we examine the beginnings of the sport in the state as well as some early innovators who had national and worldwide impact. Enjoy the history, and then get out there – the ice is perfect!
Sondra Reierson

icon for podpress  Podcast Video [4:05m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download (1498)
icon for podpress  Ebook: Download (1169)

Music credit:  Chabrier – España ft. NE Iowa high school musicians (Jason Weinberger & the WCFSO) / CC BY 3.0

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Winter on the Hill

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Winter on the Hill

Each year, the staff of the James J. Hill House, 240 Summit Avenue, St. Paul, presents a display of historic Winter Carnival memorabilia in the Music Room of the house.  The display coincides with the Winter Carnival in St. Paul, and provides a view into the past, highlighting the involvement of the Hill Family in the Carnival and winter sports activities.  The display showcases examples of the breadth and depth of the Society’s collections which includes items representing 125 years of Carnival history.

000_0002Winter on the Hill

The objects in the display date from 1887, the second year of the Winter Carnival, to 1917 when Louis Hill was involved with its revival.  The lap robe and snow shoes belonged to James J. and Mary Hill, respectively.   The objects inside the case are ephemera from Carnivals in 1887, 1888, and 1916, and are a good representation of graphic and advertising styles from those years.  They also document early St. Paul businesses marketing Carnival souvenirs.

Paul Storch, Collections Liaison, Historic Sites and Museums Division

Winter on the HillWinter on the HillWinter on the Hill

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Vulcanus Rex ‘Flame’ coat

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Vulcanus Rex 'Flame' coat

St. Paul Winter Carnival ‘Flame’ Coat with name tag and 1968 Carnival button. Worn by Vulcanus Rex XXI, Howard Christensen. Manufactured by Stanbury & Co. Uniforms, Brookfield, MO., 1968.

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“Hi, neighbor!”

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

St. Paul Winter Carnival button features King Boreas, the St. Paul skyline, and the Minneapolis skyline. The button reads, ” ‘HI, NEIGHBOR!’ ‘ / 1953 / SAINT PAUL / WINTER CARNIVAL / JAN.30 thru FEB.8″.  Manufacturer unknown, 1953.

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Winter Carnival uniform

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Winter Carnival uniform

When Carnival returned in 1917, people from Schuneman’s and Evan’s Department Store celebrated in style! This was the group’s marching uniform. Imagine a whole bunch of people wearing this coming toward you…

Yellow heavy wool coat and knickers style pants with blue and white polka dots and black stripes. The coat front fastens with four buttons and a self-belt with two buttons. The letters “S&E”  (Schuneman’s and Evan’s Department Store) are on the left sleeve. Coat label reads, “Genuine Summit Mackinaw coat.”  The pants fasten with six buttons inside waistband. Circa 1917.

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Winter Carnival Medallion

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Winter Carnival Medallion, frontWinter Carnival Medallion, back

St. Paul Winter Carnival souvenir medallion featuring the 1887 Ice Palace and highlighting winter sports. The text on the front reads, “ST. PAUL ICE PALACE & WINTER CARNIVAL / 1887.” The back features five winter scenes and four symbols of winter sports. The text on the back reads, “CITY OF ST. PAUL / INCORPORATED MARCH 4 1854.” Manufacturer unknown, 1887.

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An Ounce of Preservation: A Guide to the Care of Papers and Photographs