Snow sculptures return to Winter Carnival

Snow sculptures are back on tap for this year's St. Paul Winter Carnival. Organizers had canceled the popular attraction last week for financial reasons, but the sculptures have found a new savior in an unlikely group: the Vulcans.

The carnival's best-known fraternity says it's raising the cash needed to rescue the snow-sculpting competition. It will cost about $10,000 to put on the event at its new location, the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

Although the Vulcans represent fire and warmth in the carnival lore, they've always had a soft spot for the snow sculptures. In fact, the Vulcans started the first event in 1985, said Jeff Hunter, who heads the Vulcan alumni group Fire & Brimstone. He said his group rallied together after they learned it had been canceled.

"We're sort of the broad shoulders of the Winter Carnival anyway," Hunter said. "Whenever they need stuff lifted or moved, we're always there."

Carnival organizers originally wanted to display the snow sculptures in downtown St. Paul as a backdrop to the U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the nearby Xcel Energy Center. But they ran into unforeseen costs associated with vacating a street. No company stepped forward to sponsor the event. The ice-sculpting event will go as planned in Rice Park.

The Vulcans will get to work this weekend as they build the massive snow blocks. "We'll need 10,000 square feet of really clean snow," Hunter said. "No cigarettes, no garbage."

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