Vulcanized: Woodbury man dons the cape
Woodbury resident Mike Morgan grew up in St. Paul being surrounded by the magic of the St. Paul Winter Carnival – treasure hunting and seeing the ice sculptures – but there was one attraction that shined brighter than all the rest: the Vulcans.
“What I really liked was watching the Vulcans go by on the fire truck with the sirens blazing and horns wailing,” he said. “I always thought someday I wanted to be one of those guys.”
Morgan’s wish came true this year.
Morgan is the 2014 Duke of Klinker, one of the members of the Vulcan Krewe.
Duke of Klinker is the “Fire King’s Aide de Camp and the Herder of the Flock. A Klinker is the longest burning ember that just never wants to go out,” according to a description on the Vulcans’ website.
“I kind of take care of the boys,” Morgan said. “As the oldest member on the Krewe, I’m kind of a father figure to these guys and my character fits that.”
In order to become a Vulcan, Morgan had to go through a lengthy application and interview process before being welcomed into the Krewe.
“It’s a little bit of a process,” he said. “You don’t just walk in and do it.”
Vulcanus Rex, the Krewe’s leader – and according to the Winter Carnival legend, the sworn enemy of King Boreas – determines which character each person will portray.
The other members of the Vulcan Krewe are: Baron Hot Sparkus, Grand Duke Fertillious, Count of Ashes, Count Embrious, General Flameous and Prince of Soot.
Once someone is accepted as a Vulcan, they join the Order of Fire and Brimstone.
When you sign up to be a Vulcan, you are committed to five years of service, Morgan said.
The first year as a Vulcan is the running year, which essentially makes them the primary Vulcans of the Winter Carnival who make appearances.
In the second year, past Vulcans are responsible for being “mother hens” to the incoming Krewe during carnival week, which means they help them out in whatever capacity they need.
The third year tasks the Vulcans with selling Winter Carnival buttons to the community as a fundraiser for the organization.
In the fourth year, Vulcans must plan and execute their own fundraiser.
Finally, in their fifth active year as a Vulcan, members must plan and execute the annual Vulcan Victory Dance.
An average day during Winter Carnival starts for Morgan early in the morning when he has to start applying his Vulcan makeup and putting on the official Vulcan uniform.
“The mother hens have shown us how to do it,” he said. “We’ve gotten much better as the weeks go on.”
The rest of the day includes the Krewe visiting various events and activities such as schools, nursing homes and businesses.
“A lot of people think we’re just out driving around having a good time,” Morgan said. “There is some of that, but we do a lot of work with different civic organizations and events in order to take the Winter Carnival out to the people.”
The Vulcans’ biggest day during Winter Carnival was Saturday, Feb. 1, with the Vulcan Torchlight Parade, the Overthrow of King Boreas and finally, the Vulcan Victory Dance.
Morgan said his favorite part of being a Vulcan is being able to act outside of the box.
“It gives you a chance to get out of your shell a little bit,” he said. “You get to be more of the person you really are.
“In today’s society we’re so boxed in by different things, but when you get behind the mask you can be more open with little kids – it gives you a chance to act out more in a fun, constructive way.”
Morgan said being a Vulcan has been a great experience, even if the kids are sometimes a little scared.
“It’s kind of intimidating to begin with, but if you get down to the kids’ level, they warm up pretty quickly,” he said, “unless they were already trained by Boreas to be not friendly to the Vulcans, then our work is a little harder.
“But generally we can convert them over to the proper side.”