Welcome to St. Paul! How about a nice winter hat?


Here's one idea to make new residents to the Twin Cities feel at home: Give them a nice warm hat to help them get through their first winter.

That's the idea of Saint Paul Hello, which is launching its campaign next week to welcome transplants to the Twin Cities by rolling out the "welcome hat."

Once a month for the next six months, Saint Paul Hello is hosting a Welcome Hat event, and each attendee will receive a nice warm winter hat. "But not just any hat -- an Elmer Fudd, earflap faux fur hat," the organization notes on its website.

Attendees will also find out about local businesses and organizations, sample some food from local vendors and hear music from local bands.

The idea is the brainchild of Jun-Li Wang, who moved to Minnesota 13 years ago from California. She said it's taken her almost that long to feel at home, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. She's seen other newcomers struggle to feel welcome, too.

Wang said something changed for her two winters ago, when she bought one of the aforementioned hats, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Wang then decided all newcomers to the area should get one of those hats to help break the ice, so to speak. She pitched her idea to the Knight Foundation and others, and now it's become a reality.

Aren't we Minnesota Nice?

Yes, we are. But many transplants to the state have said the slogan should be "Minnesota Ice," which indicates a friendliness on the surface that masks a chillier attitude underneath, MPR News reported.

Many young transplants say they have a hard time making meaningful connections. It's especially true for professionals of color, who come to the Twin Cities to enhance their resumes but soon leave, according to MPR News.

That's why local community groups are getting behind the Saint Paul Hello campaign.

"It's a high priority in this region" to attract and retain young professionals, Peter Frosch of the nonprofit economic development group Greater MSP told the Pioneer Press.

The first of six Welcome Hat events is 5 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday Oct. 6 at the Minnesota History Center. You can register for the event here.

Other Welcome Hat events are scheduled for Nov. 10, Dec. 1, Jan. 5, Feb. 9 and March 8 at the History Center.

Besides the Welcome Hat events, Saint Paul Hello is also co-hosting a series of events and activities, called Nice Breakers, designed to help people make connections in the community.

Events on the October calendar include a ride on the Green Line light rail, a Halloween weekend event at the Minnesota History Center, and a visit to Fort Snelling.

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