A retrospective look at Winter Carnival

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Tucker Nielsen

You know what it is.

Tucker Nielsen, Lode Writer

To say Winter Carnival is different this year is an understatement. Since COVID spread its terror across the world last year, campus life has changed to keep us from getting sick. With the health guidelines imposed on so much of our regular lives, it’s not surprising Winter Carnival has also fallen victim to new restrictions. With the canceled broomball season to the socially distanced “gatherings” on campus, I thought it’d be good to look back at past winter carnivals from my time at Tech.

My freshmen and sophomore years were full of childlike curiosity as I walked across campus that Thursday morning. I had no reason to go out for the All-Nighter, so I slept through the night. The first time I saw the sculptures was incredible. It’s honestly impressive how ingenuitive these sculptures get. I remember seeing small campus replicas, Viking huts, ice displays, and the life-sized snow people. Afterward, I walked back to my small, cramped space in Douglass Houghton Hall and watched huskies pull people on a small track below me. I regretted not participating more, so next year would be my proper experience.

Junior year was when I finally stayed up for the All-Nighter. It was amazing how much went on; there was a bike trail for students to ride, small armies of students chipping at snow blocks, and people generally hanging out while staying warm. The first games of the season were underway, with crowds cheering at each court. I watched as players slid and handled their taped brooms with all the finesse of amateur hockey players. It was fun to stay for a little bit to watch the games before I went to help St. Al’s with their snow sculpture.

I was happy to work on a snow sculpture. After waking only to see them in the morning the previous year, I could now experience the magic of making one. For St. Al’s display, there was a crowd of stegosauruses standing by an ice waterfall. A large crocodile was about to attack one of them when Jesus Christ stomped down on it, protecting his prehistoric flock. I was amazed by the tools used, specifically the blow torch for sculpting the banks of the ice river/waterfall. Despite my inexperience with making snow sculptures, I was able to help craft a few stegosauruses. My favorite was the one I accidentally gave stubby legs, crossed eyes, and the largest open mouth of the herd. I dubbed him Mike, the “special” stegosaurus. After a few hours of helping out, I was happy to retire to bed.

The next day was full of activities, from human dog sledding to the tug of war. It was fun seeing these games going on, like a mini winter Olympics. That night, I rehearsed with St. Al’s for their Stage Revue show. My role was a humble Computer Science kid who helped build the cardboard boat that survived a biblical flood. Of course, our show had to have “Bonnie” passing out hats to cover our ears (I will never get tired of bringing that snow day email up. It’s historical for Michigan Tech meme culture). I enjoyed being on stage again and being in a silly play that had only one Northern joke. The following plays from other student organizations were interesting to watch. I was laughing pretty hard at how absurd the plots and jokes got. This was the best way for me to end the glorious four-day weekend.

I’m not too happy with the changes made to Winter Carnival this year. The topic is a fun one (I’m excited to cover the statues for next week’s review). However, it’s bittersweet knowing this year’s festivities will be darkened with all the mask-clad faces and lack of  group gatherings. 

I plan on being here for one more year, and I certainly hope next year’s Carnival is more familiar.