What is it about downtown St. Paul that it takes a parade in the dead of winter at night to get people into the city. This year's St. Paul Winter Carnival Torchlight Parade was no exception. This happens to be the second year that I've walked in the parade with my daughter, a St. Paul Irish Dancer. Last year it was minus 3 degrees below zero. The parade was shortened considerably because of the extreme cold, but we paraded three quarters of the way until my daughter's eyes were so teary from the cold that she couldn't see. We quickly ducked into the skyway system for relief from the cold.
This year, however it was a balmy twenty-nine degrees. We paraded up to the last two blocks when the sound of the King of the West Winds gunfire was so loud that my daughter stopped dancing and started crying. We found refuge as bystanders with some good friends that have been loyal to the torchlight parade for years.
I won't bore you with all the carnival lore, but its a crazy hedonistic mythology including characters called Vulcans that run around in red suits and capes and mark their victims (mostly women and children) with a black grease paint 'V' for Vulcan or Victory over snow and ice. And though their image over the years has become rather tainted (they're working on this with the same agency that is trying to change the Twin Cities image from two distinct cities with a healthy rivalry to something more friendly to encourage more tourism), there are folks lined up every year that are ready, willing and able to fork over the dollars and time to become one of these red devils. As a decendent of the Vulcan Crew, I can understand the appeal. The year before my mom and dad married In 1954, my dad disguised himself for two weeks to become Baron Hot Sparkus, commander of the Lancer's Legion and Stocker of Emotion. The 'SPARK PLUG' of the Vulcan Krewe. Hail Vulcan! Until next year.