Como park offers

Nichol Nelson

University students found an unlikely neighbor in their backyard last Friday: the St. Paul Winter Carnival.
The festival is in full swing in Como Park, including a winter playground. Carnival organizers said the close proximity to the University campus provides a perfect opportunity for students to get involved in the festival.
The Como Park site provides a centralized location for winter enthusiasts to enjoy the events, carnival officials said.
“We’re trying to make the winter carnival user friendly,” said Jennifer Eyrich, a carnival organizer. “That’s really what we’ve accomplished at Como.”
Como’s winter park includes an ice skating rink, a maze made from discarded Christmas trees and a giant snow slide. Most of the events are open daily.
The slide offers rides down its 350-foot runs for $1. Students looking for a bargain can pick up half-priced tickets at Target stores.
The state’s mild temperatures have taken their toll on many of the Carnival’s ice and snow events. The display of ice sculptures in St. Paul’s Rice Park is melting quickly in the 30 degree temperatures, but organizers are pragmatic about the demise of the art.
“That’s the nature of the carnival,” said Janet Blixt, spokeswoman for the carnival. “They’re ethereal things.”
The weather has left Como’s giant snow slide intact, but officials urge would-be riders to get to the park as soon as possible.
“It’s a little mushy and slow, but it’s decent,” said Steven Remington, executive director of the carnival.”
This weekend, the winter park will kick into high gear. On Saturday and Sunday, there will be exhibitions of winter sports like snowshoeing and dog sledding.
On Saturday night, there will be a torchlight parade in downtown St. Paul, followed by a fireworks display over the Mississippi.
The carnival is also looking for volunteers to march in the parade as mittens, socks and snowflakes, Blixt said. She urged interested students to come to the Minnesota Mutual Building on Saturday night by 5 p.m. to be fitted for costumes.