Last Saturday marked the return of RPI’s Winter Carnival. The celebration, coming back for its second year, was frigid (the pen I was using to take notes with refused to write); however, most everyone seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed the event and thought it was a great step-up from last year.
When I first arrived at the East Campus Athletic Village at 1 pm, the first thing I noticed was the FieldTurf; this was a major improvement from last year’s muddy ’86 Field. “The facilities lent itself to the Carnival,” commented Director of Student Activities Cameron McLean. Indeed, the unsoggy ground, open area, and building itself were perfect for the venue; there was more than enough space for the big white Ice Palace Tent that hosted food, as well as a couple of inflatables and carnival games that were placed by the building.
After stopping by the tent and enjoying some food and hot chocolate provided by Sodexo, President Shirley Ann Jackson arrived at the front of Harkness Field to welcome everyone: “The only way to deal with the winter is to grab it, and that’s what the festival—the carnival—is all about.” She went on to thank the helpers for the event, including McLean and Andrew Stevens ’12. “My goal for this event was to make it a tradition,” noted Stevens, who also talked about the immense amount of student-input that went into this.
After Jackson finished her speech, I quickly rushed to the Houston Field House to enjoy the free ice skating. It was a lot better skating on real ice than the synthetic ice featured at last year’s carnival—not only was it smoother, but it provided a lot more space for everyone who showed. “About 230 skating rentals were checked out,” recounted McLean on the success of the event. The skating was made even more fun when the Pep Band showed up to play some classic hockey game tunes for all the skaters.
After spending most of my time on the ice, I realized I still had more Winter Carnival to experience. I was rather cold, so I headed over to ECAV to see what was going on inside. I decided to take Puckman up on the photo-op, snack on some more food, and watch some of the sports venues; there were both a men’s lacrosse match and a women’s basketball game going on in the pristine shininess of ECAV.
When talking about the scheduling of the event, McLean stated the planners “took a day that was very active and put a carnival in the middle of it” to attract as many people as possible. The Carnival was the same week as the ’85 men’s hockey reunion and a men’s hockey game against Clarkson University on Saturday, which made the timing of the celebration perfect.
Feeling warmer, I headed over to the Ice Palace Tent once again, this time to watch one of the student performances. Duly Noted, RPI’s all-male a cappella group, sang a short set of songs. It was great to see them again; last Winter Carnival was their first venue, so it was excellent to see how much better the group had gotten after one year.
Ending with muffled applause from gloved hands given to the group, I walked a couple of yards to the left to watch a fire performance. The entertainers danced, twirled, and juggled their flaming batons between one another, entertaining the audience with their acrobatic feats. According to McLean, about 260 people watched the performance. After the show was done, more muffled applause ensued.
With the main events of the Carnival finished, I headed back to the Rensselaer Union—I skipped on the pep rally and Clarkson car bash they had later in the day. But, I was able to see the 15 minutes of fireworks all the way from the bottom of the hill in the Poly office; my friends and I sat around and enjoyed the dazzling display.
Thanks should be offered to the Office of the President, Division of Student Life, Division of Administration, and Rensselaer Union, the main funders for this year’s celebration. Props should also be given to all the students who contributed their time and effort into making the event a success: “They cleaned up, set up, stayed all day, did everything that was needed to make the event work. They did it so willingly—it was just amazing,” praised McLean. Here’s to hoping next year’s Winter Carnival will be even better and even more students get involved.
Editor’s Note: If there is something you liked or didn’t like about this year’s Carnival, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org—all comments are welcome.