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St. Paul Winter Carnival kicks off Thursday amid deep freeze

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The St. Paul Winter Carnival – also known as the "The Coolest Celebration on Earth" – is about to live up to its reputation when the annual festival gets underway Thursday, WCCO reports.

Subzero temperatures accompanied by dangerously cold wind chills will greet carnival-goers as the celebration kicks off with several outdoor events.

Among the Winter Carnival activities Thursday is the start of the ice sculpture competition in Rice Park, and a parade at night. The newly-minted Klondike Kate – Kathy Rustin-Westphal of St. Paul Park – will be out spreading cheer throughout the duration of the festival, which wraps up Feb. 2.

While temperatures in the negative teens will test crowds Thursday, a brief warm-up is in the forecast for Friday with highs in the Twin Cities area expected to be around 32 degrees.

Then it's back to more wintry weather, says MPR meteorologist Paul Huttner, whose forecast includes more bitterly cold temperatures.

"The warm up is brief, and the next arctic front drops in Saturday," Huttner writes. "The mother lode comes in Monday and Tuesday, as we plunge into the teens below zero once again."

Despite the chilly temperatures, organizers expect about 350,000 people to attend this year's Winter Carnival events, KSTP reports. The station says the event is expected to generate between $3.5-$5 million for the city of St. Paul.

Other events at this year's festival include the Royal Coronation of Boreas Rex LXXVIII and Aurora, Queen of the Snows, which will take place Friday at the St. Paul RiverCentre. The Beer Dabbler, the Securian Winter Run, and King Boreas Grande Day Parade are all set for Saturday.

The annual Torchlight Parade is scheduled for Feb. 1.

The Winter Carnival dates back to 1886. To get a sense of the carnival's history, KSTP aired footage from the festival shot in 1916.

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