Missoula Events

Veterans from all service branches to serve as Whitefish Winter Carnival LVI parade Grand Marshalls

For many years, the mountain town of Whitefish, Montana has celebrated its Winter Carnival based on the lore and history of Ullr, the God of Snow. February 6 – 8, 2015 will present the 56th Annual Whitefish Winter Carnival featuring this year’s theme “America the Beautiful ­- Honoring Veterans” offering locals and visitors unique ways to celebrate winter with quirky Whitefish traditions. National Geographic named the Whitefish Winter Carnival one of the “Top 10 Winter Carnivals in the World” in 2012.

 

Whitefish Winter Carnival Chair Paul Johannsen exclaims, “The community response to the theme honoring Veterans has been truly exciting. It’s a great thrill for the carnival board to feature our men and women of the military this year.”

 

Winter Carnival events and its full cast of characters kicked off Saturday, January 10th with the Merry Maker where the Prime Minister Luke Walrath and Duchess of Lark Linda Ray were introduced to King Ullr LVI.  King Ullr LVI Lin Akey and Queen of Snows Anita Welch were coronated on Saturday, January 17th. Prince Frey and Princess Freya will be unveiled on Saturday, January 24th.

 

The February 6 – 8 weekend festivities kick off with the Winter Carnival Gala at the Whitefish Lake Restaurant on Friday night. Saturday features the Penguin Plunge (a hole is cut into Whitefish Lake and participants take a dip to raise funds for Montana Special Olympics), then include an old fashioned main street parade, i, pie social, , x-country ski race, hockey tournament, a figure skating demonstration and more. Sunday culminates with the Rotary Pancake Breakfast. The festivities are open to the public and most are free of charge although Winter Carnival buttons are encouraged.

 

The Grand Parade on Saturday, February 7th will feature nearly 25 veterans as Grand Marshalls representing the Navy, Marine Corp, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard and every conflict from World War II to Desert Storm. Other Grand Marshalls will include representatives of the Montana National Guard and local VFW posts. The Grand Marshalls will follow the Whitefish Winter Carnival float and royalty in the parade riding in red, white and blue vehicles.Penguin Plunge

About Whitefish Winter Carnival
And the story goes…….Once upon a time, there lived a god named Ullr who reigned over the winter activities in the Nordic regions. Aiding him were his Prime Minister and Queen, who were skilled in creating the beauties of winter. But as time went by, his subjects became more engrossed in exploring the world and its oceans and paid less homage to their god-king and the festivities of their winter season, so Ullr became a god all but forgotten except in dim tradition.

After centuries of brooding and searching the world for a place of rest, Ullr and his two remaining subjects came to northwest Montana. So struck were they with its beauty that they decided to settle and selected the Big Mountain, looming over Whitefish, as their adopted home. Their rest was short lived as they soon found their home was also the abode of a fierce band of snowmen called Yetis, who attempted to kidnap their Queen. Ullr and his followers, being more agile and resourceful, prevailed and learned to live with only occasional skirmishes with the Yetis.

Eventually humans invaded the Whitefish area with axes, guns and wagons. Ullr, his followers, and the Yetis observed these people as they civilized the valley and some were alarmed when they saw people begin to invade what they called home. Ullr found these settlers were not aware of his presence and as he continued to observe them, he found that they not only enjoyed the sports of winter but also referred to Ullr himself as a patron saint of their small celebrations and revelries. He was honored by this reverence.

Seeing his chance after centuries of loneliness and self-banishment, Ullr assumed the garb of these people and went among them. The Yetis, however, would have nothing to do with these people except for attempts to drive them away. Ullr aided the settlers in subduing the harassments of Yetis and became their hero and true King. It was proclaimed that there would be an annual fete at which King Ullr and his court would be given the homage due to them, a celebration called the Whitefish Winter Carnival.
Now each year, on the first weekend of February, the town of Whitefish comes together and invites people from miles around to celebrate winter with a variety of activities, events and merriment. The Yetis, bolder than ever, try to steal the Queen, harass the Prime Minister, and interfere with the festivities to assert their right to Big Mountain and Whitefish. But Ullr, and his growing band of local followers continue to subdue them and send them fleeing back to their haven in the high valleys beyond Big Mountain. And Ullr again reigns as master of winter sports and frolics along with his Queen and Prime Minister, beloved in the hearts of his loyal subjects.

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