Winter Carnival program rises above budget cuts

The 2010 Winter Carnival, themed the “VanCOWver Ephlympics,” will continue the annual tradition of suspending classes this Friday to allow the College community to enjoy the wintry outdoors. Outdoor festivities and varsity competitions will begin Thursday evening, continue through the weekend and culminate in an Olympic Gala in Paresky Center on Saturday night.

“Every four years when it’s the Winter Olympics, we have Olympics as the theme but try to make it Williams-y,” said Elizabeth Dorr ’12, Winter Carnival chair and Williams Outing Club (WOC) board member.

Although the College has tightened budgets due to the financial pressures, WOC was able to obtain funding from multiple sources. “We’ve been very lucky because we’ve received a lot of money from Campus Life, the Committee on Undergraduate Life, College Council and the Dean’s Office,” Dorr said. “There is definitely a push to keep things on the spartan side, but it’s not impacting the quality of the events.”
Brian Shepherd ’11, All Campus Entertainment (ACE) concerts chair, said that ACE chose Radio Riot, a “fun 80s/90s cover band that has played [at the College] before,” partly because of the financial situation. “We did not have sufficient funds for a popular, original recording artist as in years past, but I think we maximized fun per dollar spent,” Shepherd said. The concert will also include student DJ Kush (Kushatha Fanikiso ’13), who will entertain during intermission and after the band plays.

In addition, this year’s Winter Carnival will feature a new event: a dog sled race called EPHditarod, which will replace the traditional fireworks show. “It’s a good way to get people to get outdoors and have a really fun time,” Dorr said. “[It is a] bigger bang for our buck and more people can benefit from it.”

Up until last year, fireworks had been an annual feature of carnival for a decade. However, the smaller budget encouraged the WOC board to make the difficult decision to abandon the $4000 pyrotechnic show for the more reasonably-priced dog sled race. “The Outing Club is really trying to get back to its roots,” said Scott Lewis, WOC director. “We are trying to provide what the WOC does best: celebrating the outdoors.”
The final event, the Olympic Gala, will fill all three floors of Paresky with a variety of activities. The basement will be used for active games like Nintendo Wii, while Baxter Hall will serve as a dance floor and casino games will occupy the third floor.

In order to allow WOC to focus on the outdoor events, the Winter Carnival planning committee expanded to incorporate Campus Life in addition to ACE. Lewis said that by expanding and making a “more inclusive Winter Carnival committee, we can provide the outdoor activities and commit to getting people outside, skiing, snowshoeing and the like.”

Lewis said that one of his favorite Winter Carnival events is the “Learn-to-Ski” session. “It’s amazing that for only $20 dollars, [WOC] can get Williams students transportation, equipment rental and lift tickets,” Lewis said. “[It is a] fun way of reaching out to the people who usually don’t enjoy winter.”

Because many first-years may be unsure of what exactly Winter Carnival entails, the Committee released an advertisement that it hopes will promote enthusiasm for Friday and visited entry snacks on Sunday night. “I will definitely take the opportunity to learn how to ski,” Chris Hikel ’13 said.

Last year’s Winter Carnival was different from most years’ due to NESCAC’s decision that no college could host back-to-back carnivals and ski races. This year, the races and the associated carnival will be back at the College.

The Committee also hopes that this year will see an increase in faculty and staff participation in events, as turnout has been low in recent years. Since local K-12 students do not have school this Friday, Dorr expressed hope that the holiday will encourage faculty and staff to bring their families to some events.

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