“I am in big trouble! Someone has stolen my truck” phoned Steve Johnson, an employee of local towing company to his girlfriend. Mr. Johnson was at the Minnesota State Fairground’s impound lot to help a customer pick up their car. He had left his diesel engine truck running as he went inside to do paperwork. The Vulcans had moved his truck around the building. Mr. Johnson was much relieved to see the flashing light of his vehicle. The Vulcans had written “property of Vulcans” and “V’s” all over his truck.
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Besides mischief and entertainment the Vulcan Krewes promote community awareness and volunteerism. They make as many as 400 appearances in a given year to benefit communities around the Twin Cities Metro. This year they will also travel to Florida, Wisconsin, the larger state of Minnesota, and Winnipeg, Canada.
“The Vulcans came to visit my son in the hospital last year,” said Shirley Aiken, a retired Hamline University employee. “Bob and his friends had carved an ice sculpture of dinosaur hatching an egg with a Vulcan inside. They had won the contest in 2005.”
“We are visitors and fundraisers for Boys and Girls Clubs, Metro Deaf School, and Bridgeview School.” said James Green, past Baron Hot Sparkus of the Vulcans. “Each Vulcan Krewe choses a cause that they will work for the next 5 years. And often it becomes a lifetime commitment.” Mr. Green has fulltime job, volunteers as fireman, and works as rescue technician that helps out as a safety team for movie sets. He pays out of pocket for his travel as a Vulcan. “What I like most is all the contacts I am making with people traveling around the country. I sometimes need a break from the tight group we Vulcans are; we are like family spending a lot of time together. And we can get into little
petty disagreements about shoes. We all have our own ideas.”
Vulcanus Rex 72, this year’s Fire King reports, ”I like community service. I can bring joy in winter and be out and about. I do not like the cold. We put in 240 hours at the Winter Carnival and over 1000 hours in a year.” When asked about the changes of code of conduct for the Vulcans, Vulcan Rex 72 said, “We do not put on garters anymore and we hand out buttons instead of pinning them on people. It is more how an observer interprets what they see us doing, than what we are actually doing.” James Green says, “As society changes our code of conduct changes. We go through a rigorous training and if Krewe members deviate they are out of the our organization.”
In 1885 a New York reporter wrote that Saint Paul was “another Siberia unfit for human habitation” in winter. The Saint Paul Chamber of Commerce was so offended by this comment that they decided that St. Paul was not only habitable but its citizenry was very much alive during winter, their most dominant season. The first winter carnival began in 1886 with bobsledding, ice horse racing, and ice castle.
The legend of the Winter Carnival states that the Vulcan Krewe battles King Boreas to end the cold of winter and seek to bring warmth of summer to the beautiful city of Saint Paul. Boreas, as King of the Winds, wants to take historic St. Paul and her seven hills as his domain for his winter playground.
This is the second year of snow sculptures which the Vulcans started at the Sate Fairgrounds. Over 100 volunteers had snow packed wooden frames for the event. Saturday, January 31, the 10th day of celebration, the Vulcan Rex and his Krewe will storm the Ice Palace to reclaim it from King Boreas so that summer can once again return to St. Paulites.