Since 1958, The Former Queens organization has provided service and support to their community and solidarity to its members. Today, the Former Queens is a Minnesota 501(c)(3) Non-profit organization.
A renewed effort to stage a Winter Carnival in St. Paul based on the pageantry of the English Royalty, began in 1937. Dorothy Arneberg was chosen as the 17th Queen of the Snows in 1955 (due to a hiatus during WWII.) She was honored and enjoyed her reign and all the new friends she made. She had been a participant even as a child. Even after her reign she faithfully attended functions to which she was invited (and even those open to the public). There she often met other 'past' queens.
By 1958 she was told by the General Manager & Board of Directors that the Former Queens would not receive recognition until they became organized. She was aware that Boreas, the Vulcans, Winds, and Primes all had 'organizations' and that she would like to get to know other past Queens better. Newly married and with a firstborn son, she invited the other queens to her apartment for "Tea". She suggested they form an organization and they voted to name it "The Former Queens".
The first several years were rocky. They elected a President, Secretary & Treasurer and met each year during Carnival for a 'dutch treat lunch' to invite the most recent 'Former' Queen into their organization. They soon began having 'High Tea' at a hotel ballroom and inviting other guests.
By 1960 they found a sponsor with 'Green Stamps' but were chagrined to arrive at the St. Paul Hotel to find the room filled with Green Stamp logos. Even the cake was decorated with Green stamp ads.
Within a couple of years Helen Duffy Murphy (Queen of the Snows in 1947) invited the group to have the Tea at her home on Historic Summit Avenue. It wasn't long before the Tea became a place to host the new Queen of the Snows candidates, and over 100 guests were crowded into the space. The Tea was hosted at the home of Helen and Dick Murphy (Prime Minister in '63) for nearly 50 years. During that time, it was one of the few Carnival events for which attendance was "by invitation only" and costed nothing to attend.
In 2009, While serving on the Uniformed Group Council - a conglomerate of representatives from each of the alumni organizations within Winter Carnival, Dorothy was asked why the Former Queens did not open their Tea to the public and to other Uniformed members, as all the other groups did.
Providing Service & Support
The Organization voted that year to have an open Tea and charge admission to offset the cost. Due to the continued growth and interest, they have moved the event to larger venues as well. It has proven quite successful and they decided to use the popular event as a fund raiser to assist each new incoming Queen with her wardrobe and travel costs. They also give a generous gift to the newest Former Queen.
Today, the Queen's Tea is held each year on the Sunday before the official Winter Carnival begins. In addition to the well-known annual High Tea, the Former Queens engage in many activities in service to the community, have productive monthly meetings, support the reigning Queen, participate in various St. Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation committees and Boards, and have been a major supporter of the Children's Home Society and Family Services as well as other charitable organizations.