For one sunny day, Minnesotans make the most of spring in February

Melting ice sculptures in downtown St. Paul's Rice Park
Ice sculptures in downtown St. Paul's Rice Park started melting away in above-normal temperatures on Sunday. The sculpture in the foreground was a sea turtle whose flippers had fallen off.
Emily Bright | MPR News

A forecast of temperatures in the 40s and sunny skies is not ideal if you carve ice sculptures.

But the sculptures in downtown St. Paul's Rice Park were holding up remarkably well Sunday as the 134th annual St. Paul Winter Carnival wrapped up.

Water dripped and formed slush at their bases, and an occasional chunk of ice calved off, but overall they were intact and recognizable in the warmth that was close to 20 degrees above normal for this time of year.

Visitors were checking the ice sculptures out while they still could. Alex Webb pushed his young daughter in a stroller.

"It's a good day to take advantage of the sun and the good weather and to be out," he said. "It'll be cold again soon."

Yingling Ching of Maple Grove came to the carnival with his family for the first time on Sunday after reading about it on Facebook.

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"We brought our child to visit here -- and it's a nice day, so we want to go out," he said. They planned to stay out while the weather was nice, perhaps by going shopping or visiting another park.

Sara DeKok of St. Paul was there with three generations of her family. She said they're big fans of the Winter Carnival, and she couldn't help comparing this year to the last time her in-laws joined them several years ago.

"It was dangerous, below(-zero) wind chill temperatures at this exact same time, when we tried to come visit," she recalled. "It was almost too cold to be outside."

Her mother-in-law Cindy DeKok of Dodgeville, Wis., chimed in merrily.

"We had to run through the park because it was so windy and so ferociously cold that we thought we would turn into an ice sculpture, basically," she said. "But it was beautiful. But today it's oh, so sad seeing Frosty melt before our eyes. But wonderful."

There's a badge of honor that comes from braving terrible cold. So Sara DeKok said Sunday's weather gave her "mixed feelings. I mean, it's lovely to have a nice, warm day like this in February, but we're also very concerned about what this means for our climate."

Others whose work or volunteering required them to be to present in all weather conditions seemed grateful for the sunny skies and comparative warmth.

"I don't mind standing here. It's not as bad out," said David Jones, who was working security through Asia Security.

That said, Jones had decidedly indoor plans for after work. "After this, it's Super Bowl Sunday!” he said.

Temperatures will drop back into the more seasonable 20s for the Twin Cities on Monday.