The 1961 Winter Carnival was very similar to the ones we know of today. To celebrate the university’s 75th anniversary students performed skits, watched entertainers, and competed to see who could construct the best snow sculpture over a couple of weeks. Little did they know, Winter Carnival was about to see the beginning of a new tradition.
When asked about what inspired him to make a snow sculpture in just one night, Gary Street, B.S. Chemical Engineering 1962, admitted that he wanted to make the 1961 Carnival something special, since it was the 75th anniversary of the university. In the spur of the moment, Street rounded up some friends and they outlined one of Winter Carnival’s first ‘one-nighter’ snow sculptures. The plan was to build a sculpture worthy of capturing the 75-year transformation from outhouses to indoor plumbing.
Before the crew could begin construction, they had to find a place to start. According to Street, “We had to find a location that was right on the campus, but we couldn’t interfere with another statue.” This meant that Street and the rest of the six-person crew had to get creative, opting to build their statue in an unused area that got just enough light. While finding the right location was a challenge, the conditions for an overnight build were not. The abundance of snow and warmer temperatures made it easy for the crew to pack and sculpt snow. Throughout the night, the crew worked tirelessly to sculpt their outhouse and toilet. With time at a premium, Street confessed that the group “kind of made it up as we went along,” but in the end, “it turned out better than I thought it would.”
The next morning, the sculpture became a popular place to snap a picture. Looking for a laugh, students and locals took turns sitting on the toilet seat. While the statue was a nice spot for a chuckle, its impact stretched far beyond that. Street estimates that in the following year, three to four other groups did one-night snow statutes. Today, the one-night statue build is one of Winter Carnival’s proudest traditions as dozens of teams compete to claim a first-place award from the judges. Back in 1961, Street had no idea that he and his team were changing Winter Carnival.