Ice Box of the Nation Takes Deep Freeze in Stride

By Stan Friedman

INTERNATIONAL FALLS, MN (January 7, 2014) — Bitter below-zero temperatures across the Midwest and Northeast have forced businesses, churches, and schools to close and have brought transportation to a near standstill in some areas, but residents of International Falls wonder what the big deal is.

International Falls, which is located on the United States and Canadian border, has an average winter temperature of 2 degrees Fahrenheit. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has designated the small town of some 6,000 people the “Icebox of the Nation” because it is considered the coldest community in the contiguous 48 states.

“We might be a little strange, but we actually like it,” says Darren Olson Sr., pastor of International Falls Covenant Church. “There’s a kind of pride that goes with it. We kind of laugh at the rest of the country.”

Last December, International Falls recorded a record eight consecutive days below minus 30 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. The coldest day was minus 37 degrees on December 30 with a monthly average temperature of minus 4.1 degrees. And that is before wind chill.

So the negative temperatures recorded across much of the rest of the country might be considered something of a heat wave here.

Activities, including church meetings, are rarely cancelled. “We don’t have any drop in attendance,” Olson says. Even senior citizens seem undeterred. “They don’t let anything slow them down.”

There recently were some cancellations, however. A story in Friday’s Twin Cities Pioneer Press read, “Temperatures there dropped even farther Thursday morning, when a temperature of minus 42 was recorded, prompting International Falls Public Schools to cancel school for the day.”

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