Richard O'Toole, "leader", Twin Cities area D&BC (MN-1939)

Posted on Sat, Feb. 04, 2006
Oldest Vulcan a spark of energyAlumnus honored for 60 years' service
Pioneer Press

St. Paul native Richard O'Toole lives up to his Vulcan title: the Duke of Klinker, a
reference to a fire's longest-burning ember that won't give out.

In 1946, at age 22, he became the St. Paul Winter Carnival's youngest member of the
rowdy Vulcan Krewe, who work to overthrow King Boreas and end his reign of cold.

Today, at 82, O'Toole is the oldest active Vulcan alumnus and said his passion for
the role is stronger than ever.

O'Toole works with the Fraternal Order of Fire and Brimstone, the Vulcan alumni
association, to add fun and cheer to the Winter Carnival every year.

This year, O'Toole helped coordinate the snow sculpture contest and arranged rides
for kids on Vulcan fire trucks.

Tonight, he'll join the 2006 Krewe and Vulcan alumni for the annual Vulcan Victory
Torchlight Parade in downtown St. Paul. Afterward, the Vulcan Krewe will battle King
Boreas in Mears Park for the traditional "dethroning" ceremonies that mark the final
weekend of the carnival.

O'Toole's colleagues recognized his 60 years as a Vulcan on Thursday with a plaque
and specially designed button.

Like fellow Vulcans, O'Toole does whatever needs to be done, he said. "Vulcans are
the greatest volunteers of the carnival," he declared with a smile.

During most of the 10-day carnival, the Vulcan Krewe keeps busy from 7 a.m. to 11
p.m., visiting homes for seniors, hospitals and schools and appearing around town,
O'Toole said.

His energy is amazing, said Chris Danielson of Little Canada, who served as Duke of
Klinker in 2000. For instance, during a fall outing, O'Toole filled in for the 2005
Klinker, dressing up in his own red uniform and riding a Vulcan fire truck, Danielson

Vulcan alumni regard him as "the epitome of loyalty and commitment" to the
association, said Les Malmquist, who served as Duke of Klinker in 1978 and as King
Boreas LIX in 1995. The group enjoys O'Toole's vast store of carnival stories, all
embellished with his pithy humor, Malmquist said.

When not participating in carnival activities, O'Toole volunteers at the Veterans
Hospital and with the Memorial Rifle Squad at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.

A 1940 graduate of Mechanic Arts High School, he worked for many years in cargo
shipping jobs.

He got his start with the Winter Carnival as a teenager in 1939, when he led a drum
and bugle corps. Seven years later, he was chosen for the Vulcan Krewe with a little
help from St. Paul businessman Paul Villiaume. (In a twist of fate, it was
Villiaume's son Philip who ended up filing a lawsuit in connection with a groping
incident involving last year's Vulcan King.)

For the record, O'Toole is not pleased with the recent rule changes that restrict
some Vulcan activities and require that Krewe members wear nametags. He calls some of
the negative publicity "much ado about nothing."

He acknowledges Vulcans would "run around and mark women" with greasepaint or markers
but said such activities were not indecent in any way.

In earlier times, "women loved it," he said.

Some of the changes, O'Toole believes, will take away the fun. Vulcans are the high
spot of the carnival, he said.