Reviving Winter Carnival

In an attempt to revitalize the spirit and enthusiasm that made Winter Carnival such a great event in the 1970’s, this year’s carnival committee decided to diversify the exciting list of activities from previous years’ Winter Carnivals. Forty years ago, Carnival was seen as one of the best weekends of the year. Hundreds of students from neighboring colleges and universities would venture to Williamstown for a snow sculpture contest, tricycle race, lavish parties and many other exciting events. During the past few years, without the ski races, the enthusiasm and excitement surrounding Winter Carnival has decreased markedly within the student body. Sally Mairs [’13], Gordon Bauer [’13] and I wanted to make this Winter Carnival one that would be on par with those of the past – hopefully revitalizing the tradition of fantastic Carnivals and paving the way for even greater ones in the years to come.

In an effort to start this year’s events on a high note, several a cappella groups performed in the dining halls, and a group of students constructed a fabulous snow castle on Paresky lawn. These events served to pique the student body’s interest in Carnival as a whole, and the spirit was increasing rapidly leading up to the main events. The fireworks display and Harry Potter figure skating show were attended by hundreds of students, while only a dozen proved brave enough to handle Dodd’s Fear Factor competition. Goodrich was filled near capacity for the Maccabeats concert and a gigantic ice dragon guarded the Paresky steps for an entire week, making it the longest lasting ice sculpture in Williams’ Winter Carnival history! Unfortunately, a rowdy dragon slayer with the blessings of Sir Keystone decided to challenge it this past weekend. Despite this tragic destruction, Winter Carnival was a giant success, hosting dozens of events for nearly every type of person on campus to enjoy.

Over half of the student body hikes up to Stony Ledge every year for Mountain Day, but those same students choose to participate in very few or even none of the events during Winter Carnival. It could be the workload, cold weather, lack of interest or multitude of sporting events keeping students away, but over the past few years the carnival committee has been working hard to promote interest and spark inspiration for new Carnival events. We all know its difficult to put homework aside, throw on snowboots and mittens for the 50th day in a row and enjoy the sunshine, but when we are graced with a beautiful 65-degree cloudless day, it is nearly impossible to study Descartes, memorize Schrodinger’s equation or even draw in the studio. So why not get out and enjoy the amazing events that have been prepared solely for the purpose of having fun and procrastinating?

The carnival committee is constantly looking for ways to improve Winter Carnival – from funnier Eph-pun themes and activities to making the surrounding wilderness more accessible to the student body as a whole. We’re trying to gain as much student participation and faculty support as possible by promoting extended due dates and easier homework assignments during Carnival weekend. We know that the ideal weekend would have no homework at all, but the fact is that a relaxing weekend doesn’t exist at Williams College – we’re just trying to make Carnival as close to that as possible. Students need to take a break from the library, learn to ski, build an igloo, take a walk in the woods or spend an afternoon making snow angels, and that is what Carnival aims to do. So feel free to let us know if you have ideas for future events – Winter Carnival is designed to be for students, by students.