Hail Boreas!: Somerset man reigns over the St. Paul Winter Carnival
King Boreas, who reigns over the St. Paul Winter Carnival, is extending his kingdom this year.
The 2017 King Boreas, Jason Bradshaw, lives in Somerset.
Bradshaw's wife, Brea (Belisle), is a Somerset native. They were married in 2007 and have three children attending the Somerset schools, Annika, Ford and Marta.
Bradshaw was crowned as King Boreas during the annual St. Paul Winter festival in February. Since then, life has been a whirlwind of public appearances. It started with the 10 days of the Winter Carnival. Two weeks later, there was a trip to Winnipeg, Canada, for its winter festival, Festival Du Voyageur. March included visits to Macon, Ga., and Tallahassee, Fla. There will be a trip to Bradenton, Fla., in April. A fall visit to Chicago is on the schedule, as is a January trip to San Antonio. And it's possible that the Bradshaws could be invited to appear in the Rose Bowl Parade on New Year's Day.
His docket for the year includes 80 parades during the summer, ranging from St. Paul's Cinco de Mayo celebration to Somerset's Pea Soup Days. In all, Bradshaw said there are more than 350 appearances scheduled for the year in his King Boreas role. Many of the events are in St. Paul, but there are a number throughout the Twin Cities area. Bradshaw said he hoped to bring more of the events to western Wisconsin and the eastern Twin Cities. He said he'd like to get more people from the area to come to St. Paul for the Winter Carnival.
The Winter Carnival royalty plans full days of events to bring enjoyment to large groups. On a recent Monday, they started their day with a program at the Somerset Elementary School. It was the first of six stops they made through the day. As part of the visit to the elementary school, Bradshaw was able to knight several of the teachers.
So how does a Somerset resident become king of St. Paul's major winter event? It goes back to 1972, when Bradshaw's father was the North Wind, a member of the Winter Carnival court. The Bradshaw family business, Bradshaw Funeral and Cremation Services, has its roots on St. Paul's Rice Street, where the company's main office remains today.
Once you are part of winter carnival royalty, it is like a lifetime membership. Bradshaw recalled fondly getting to go to parades with his father as a kid.
"It was sort of an extended family growing up," Bradshaw said of his dad's involvement in the royalty.
In November 2015, Bradshaw was asked to breakfast by a couple of Winter Carnival representatives and they presented the opportunity of him taking on the King Boreas role.
"I talked with Brea, and from a family timing it made sense," Bradshaw said, saying they agreed that the kids were at the right age to enjoy the experience. They laughed, saying the kids have dressed as young Vulcans at several of the Winter Carnival events.
To prepare for the responsibility of being an ambassador for St. Paul, Bradshaw went through an interview process and an eight-month mentorship. During that time, they developed their theme and crest for the year.
Bradshaw said he's been amazed at the number of people they've met who have ties to the Winter Carnival, saying they meet someone at every visit with a Winter Carnival story. In a recent visit to Boutwells in Stillwater, Minn., they met the oldest living St. Paul Vulcan, dating back to 1950. In another visit, they met a woman who attended her first Winter Carnival Parade 80 years ago.
The Winter Carnival has an incredible history, dating back to 1886. More than 130 years later, Bradshaw said a focus is to get more young people interested in the Winter Carnival through the use of social media. The various social media outlets can be found at:
• Website: www.wintercarnival.com
• Facebook: winter carnival 2017 royal family
• Twitter: @boreasbradshaw
Also, if anyone has events or volunteer activities where they'd like to involve the Winter Carnival court, requests can be made through the Winter Carnival website.