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Hail Vulc! Liberty Dream comes true for oldest living St. Paul Carnival “Vulcanus Rex”

Fire broke through winter’s ice at Johanna Shores on Tuesday, January 28 as the 2020 St. Paul Winter Carnival Vulcan Krewe arrived in its signature red fire engine with fanfare and shenanigans. The Krewe, led by Vulcanus Rex LXVIII, came to fulfill a Liberty Dream for Roger (Rog) Sorensen who reigned as the 35th Fire King at the 1972 Winter Carnival. At age 91, Rog is the oldest living Vulcanus Rex.
Next to Rog was his wife Marg, who was the first woman to serve as chair of the Board of Directors for the St. Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation, which produces the Winter Carnival. They were surrounded by family members who worked closely with Johanna Shores’ staff members Nancy Schwartz, Jane Chagnon, Kara Reiser, and others to make Rog’s Liberty Dream come true.
Storming through the hallways, the red-caped Krewe entered a room full of cheering residents. With a graceful bow, Vulcanus Rex, LXXVIII, whose identity is concealed until after the Carnival, greeted Rog and Marg. The seven Krewe members surrounded them, lifting their hands in “V” for Vulcan and proclaiming “Hail Vulc!”

The 2020 Fire King raised the Vulcan Sword onto Rog’s shoulder and pronounced his 1972 predecessor to be the “King of Vulcan Traditions.” He presented Rog a certificate and medal in recognition of his “flaming loyalty and intrepid zeal.” Vulcanus Rex, LXXVIII noted the importance of the Krewe’s visit. “We pay homage to those who went before us and are still around. We want to make sure we recognize them and the path they set for us,” he said.

Enjoy these highlights from the event:

The traditions of the mischievous Vulcan King and Krewe were created from the Germanic tradition of the energy and disruption which springtime brings to the final days of winter. King Boreas and the Queen of Snows may personify winter but, as happens every year on the 10th day of the Carnival, the Vulcan Krewe will free the citizens of St. Paul from the Royalty’s icy grip with fireworks and a promise of the spring to come.  

The Vulcan Krewe is legendary for its spectacular “Coming Out” when the Krewe makes its first appearance each year during King Boreas’ Grand Day Parade through downtown St. Paul. Rog explained, “The ‘Coming Out’ of the Vulcan Krewe is a surprise and a big deal. Everybody tries to outdo everyone else every year.” As Rog tells it, in 1972, Krewe members enlisted a local wrecking company’s giant crane to lift the red Krewe Fire Truck and secretly placed it on the roof of the Commercial State Bank. The truck was hoisted down to St. Peter’s Street just ahead of the King Boreas’ and the Royal Court’s Float as the Krewe repelled to the street from the 3rd floor window of the bank. “It was something to see,” he laughed.

Marg’s leadership on the Board of Directors, while not as flamboyant, was also important to the legacy of the annual celebration that started in 1886. As the first woman elected to serve as Board Chair in 1978, Marg said that she received the respect and cooperation needed to generate the fun and community pride of the Carnival. Although her memories are many, she said that her favorite moment was when she announced and crowned the 1978 Queen of Snows.

Rog and Marg’s daughter Chris brought her parents’ history to the attention of the Johanna Shores team who saw the potential for a Liberty Dream. They worked with family to arrange for the Vulcan Krewe visit (thanks in part to Tim Cole, former 2008 Vulcan), gather and display mementos from Rog’s and Marg’s Carnival days, and plan the party at Johanna Shores.

“Liberty Dreams make a special moment happen for a resident to the best of our ability,” Nancy Schwartz explained. “This was an opportunity to bring what’s happening in the broader community to the residents and also recognize their neighbors’ accomplishments. More than just displaying Rog and Marg’s memorabilia, we’re glad we were able to create a Winter Carnival occasion for all the residents to celebrate together,” she said.

Liberty Dreams are a popular facet of Liberty Personally Designed Living™, the PHS resident-centered model of care that recognizes and values independent choice, and creates opportunities for each person to determine how they wish to live within the community setting. Liberty encourages staff to form meaningful relationships with the people they serve and set their priorities and work routines to support resident preferences. As staff spend time with residents, learning about the life stories, family, passions of each resident, they often discover what a resident’s Liberty Dream might be and how to make it come true.

Learn more about Liberty Personally Designed Living.

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