New to Minnesota? Come get a hat. (You’re going to need it.)

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Saint Paul Hello offers anyone who has recently moved or returned to Minnesota a free faux fur-lined hat, which is “the secret to surviving winter” according to founder Jun-Li Wang // Photo courtesy Saint Paul Hello

People born and raised in Minnesota tend to minimize (or straight up ignore) how brutal our winters can be. Call it survival, call it stubbornness, but the truth is, we like to pretend that weeks of sub-zero highs are normal.

Reality check: We’re wrong. And Minnesota newbies are calling us out.

Saint Paul Hello was founded by Jun-Li Wang, a Saint Paul transplant, with help from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to help new Minnesota residents adjust to life in the tundra. How? By providing them with what Jun-Li calls “the secret to surviving winter”: a faux fur-lined hat with ear flaps.

More than that, Saint Paul Hello helps connect Minnesota newcomers and returnees with events, companies, and groups to help them feel at home faster. A few times a month, Nice Breakers are held. The events range from Books & Bars, a public book club held at different bars around Saint Paul, to free dances, to organized explorations of different neighborhoods.

The main outreach, though, is the monthly Welcome Hat night. Each Welcome Hat night includes food, drinks, music, and a slew of local businesses and organizations ready to help attendees feel more informed and comfortable in their new city.

The next Welcome Hat night is Tuesday, November 10, from 5-8pm, at the Minnesota History Center. Mascots from the St. Paul Saints and Minnesota United FC will be there, as well as local musician Lydia Liza and more than two dozen Twin Cities organizations–including The Growler crew. The event free to attend, but registration is recommended.

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