Winter Carnival to lack ski races and fireworks

For this year’s Winter Carnival, a 93-year-old tradition at the College, the alpine and nordic ski team will not be competing in intercollegiate play as they have in years past, and a traditional fireworks show will not be held.

In the past, there have been four other carnival locations: Dartmouth, Middlebury, UVM and St. Lawrence, but a total of 11 other ski teams have never previously had the opportunity to host a carnival of their own. This year, Williams has decided to “graciously abandon tradition,” according to Scott Lewis, director of the Williams Outing Club (WOC), in order to give other schools the opportunity to host carnivals of their own. The College will still hold the ski competition on alternating years and will still enjoy a campus carnival even without the traditional ski race.

The lack of a race has sparked necessary amends to tradition, including the fact that ski team skits will not take place at the opening ceremonies. In lieu of the skits, which usually provide the main entertainment at the carnival’s kickoff event, a faculty talent show will take place with votes tallied in dollars for the best act and proceeds going to local charities benefiting those in need endure the winter.

This year’s festivities will be the inauguration of a new era in Winter Carnival history. For one, it is the first in a while to have a major overarching theme. “Although we’ve always had a theme since the 1950s, since 1995, they’ve been ‘moo’ this or ‘cow’ that and we wanted a variation,” said WOC board member Joe Skitka ’10. Harry Potter and his magical world will pervade this year’s “Wizards and Blizzards Winter Carnival” events, a theme stemming from Friday night’s Harry and the Potters concert at 9 p.m. in Baxter Hall.

Skitka also addressed community concern over the lack of fireworks this year. He cited the costs, which totaled approximately $4500, as ultimately outweighing the benefits. “Not as many people were going out and enjoying them, so we made an effective change to use the exact amount of funds for live entertainment – amounting to a lot more entertainment for the same amount of money,” he said.
According to Lewis, the 10-year-old tradition of fireworks will likely return on years when the College hosts ski races, ensuring that each class will have the opportunity to appreciating them at least two out of four years. “It will make them something a little more special, a little more excitement to look forward to,” he said.

Skitka also underscored that while WOC organizes the carnival, this year’s effort is singular in that is the most comprehensive and inclusive one to date. “Campus Life is giving more resources than ever, the Neighborhoods are doing more work than they ever have, the ski teams have done so much; the events and work of WOC are just a part of this carnival,” Skitka said. With the lack of ski team comes an underscoring of student- and campus-centric events. “The idea is that there is something for everyone and it’s all on campus and accessible,” he said.

The Jiminy Peak Weenie Jam, introduced last year, returns for 2009, as does the Wah tournament. There will be copious indoor entertainment, with increased utilization of Lansing ice rink. New ice sculpting opportunities, sledding races and skiing options will occur in addition to several musical performances. The lack of the ski race encouraged organizers to plan even more events than in the past, producing a Winter Carnival blending tradition with innovation.