St. Paul Winter Carnival kicks off 2021 drive-thru event

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The St. Paul Winter Carnival kicked off Thursday.

"We are a tradition, and there’s a lot of history behind it," Deb Schaber, president and CEO of the St. Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation, said.

Still, this year, there will be changes due to COVID-19.

"We are taking the ice sculptures from Rice Park and the snow sculptures that are typically at the Vulcan’s Snow Park, and combining them together into a drive-thru event at the State Fairgrounds," she said.

Snow sculptor Jason Moe’s "Star Wars"-inspired creation is 14-feet high.

"This is the Mandalorian, and this is Grogu the Baby Yoda and IG 11, the droid," Moe said.

These teams have been working hard to catch your eye, even making their own carving tools.

"We’ve got nail plates attached to other devices for scraping. We’ve made a cable saw by crimping nuts onto a wire cable to pull through the snow," Moe said.

There’s a lot of detail going into this 135-year tradition.

"Come out and enjoy, meet the royalty and the Vulcans," Schaber said.

Tickets on sale for drive-thru St. Paul Winter Carnival experience

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS caught up with one of those royalty: Carol Carney, the first Klondike Kate.

"Well, I tell you, it was magic, I had no idea that this would happen," Carney said.

The first-ever Klondike Kate, now 85 years old, added, "Oh, it feels wonderful, especially because I’m still alive!"

Carney said she still loves to perform as much as she did when she was "sashed" 50 years ago.

It’s a historic winter event that, even amid a pandemic, is expected to be "the coolest celebration on Earth." There are about 30 of these frozen sculptures across the St. Paul Winter Carnival to check out.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS is a proud sponsor of the St. Paul Winter Carnival.

The Klondike Kates are hosting a virtual cabaret on Sunday, Jan. 31, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The show will be posted on the Winter Carnival’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. This is a fundraiser for the Royal Order of the Klondike Kate’s. They suggest and appreciate a $10 donation per person.

To learn more about this year’s event, click here.