For the past year, I served as Boreas Rex LXVIII with a company of individuals who comprised the St. Paul Winter Carnival Royal Family and Guards. We took part in parades, luncheons, dinners, special appearances and recognition ceremonies – activities that show the pride and vibrant nature of St. Paul and her people. We crisscrossed the Twin Cities, traveled through numerous states and into Canada – acting as ambassadors for the city of St. Paul, and one of the nation’s most visible festivals – "The Coolest Celebration on Earth, The St. Paul Winter Carnival."
But all that was just an outward sign of what was really going on during this family’s time as royals.
As each of us substituted our everyday wear for the dress of the royal family, we became a cast of characters that enact a story originally written in 1888. This transformation allowed us to bring to life a spirited mythological story of winter fun and celebration. Each year the royal family renews the tale and new characters identify with new groups of people. In 2004 our family embraced St. Paul’s diverse culture and looked to develop meaningful relationships with businesses, neighborhood groups, individuals and nonprofit organizations that address needs of the greater St. Paul area. Recognizing people in their own language, speaking and addressing people with a concerted outward appreciation for their own accomplishments, and being mindful of personal struggles were always on the forefront of our agenda.
Each of us got involved in the carnival for our own reasons – tradition, business contacts, community pride and fun – but we quickly came together as a family with one shared vision: Community, service, family and fun. They were our bywords, our focus for the year, our mission to the public. They served as a greeting and our honored toast.
There was a prophecy for this family. The message was that great knowledge and growth would come to its members. Leaders would be groomed and their works would define greatness.
How would the prophecy be fulfilled? Knowledge would come through works of kindness. Growth would come when each would listen for, and then grasp, the moment that could fulfill our personal destiny. The rewards would be the fruits of personal discovery and an awakened awareness of individual potential.
A famous saying by Carl W. Buehner states, "They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel." We wanted to make sure that in the short year we had as representatives, our legacy of unselfish works would remain. Buehner’s words were the basis of our work with the community, with our families, with the service we performed and with the fun we had. Throughout the year we would follow a common set of values that were outlined in this way:
For Community: We are all loyal citizens of the United States and enthusiastic supporters of the great city of St. Paul. We value a strong and vibrant community. We also acknowledge that the greatest measure of any community is the way it cares for its frailest members. We will not forget the frail among us. We will bring cheer to the ill, respect to our elders and leadership to the young.
For Service: As volunteers, we know the intoxicating joy of giving generously of our time and our talents. We realize that by giving we grow as individuals, we learn of other cultures and we reap far more than we sow.
For Family: We recognize that the strength of the Royal Family comes from the support of our real families. These loved ones are the keepers of our family flames and the nurturers of our homes. Their loving care prepares us to take Winter Carnival to the masses, and to their loving hearths we will return at the end of the day. We owe great tribute to the support they provide us, and we strive to be true to the standards and ideals they instill in us.
For Fun: Ours is not an exclusive fun defined by who is kept out, but rather an inclusive fun that reaches out to others and draws them into our circle so that it can grow and flourish. Our fun is respectful; it is not unkind or critical. It is mindful of the humanity of all, and relishes the humor found in living each day to the fullest. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We remember who we are, where we come from and where we will return.
Did we succeed? Did we make a difference? I hope so, but that’s for others to measure. I do know it was an honor to serve as part of the Winter Carnival Royal Family, an honor that was shared equally by my wife and kids. Carnival in St. Paul is similar to all volunteer efforts. The joy it brings comes from satisfaction in knowing you made a difference through community, service, family and fun.