Top Hat

Winter Carnival approaching, full of tradition

Hello everyone. The 2014 Winter Carnival is almost here! It will be this Saturday, February 15th at the East Campus Athletic Village. The Winter Carnival is a wonderful RPI tradition that takes place every year. I love RPI history and traditions, which may be evident from my past writings. I thought it would be interesting to go over the history of the Winter Carnival. It dates back to 1949 when the junior class of the time planned a semi-formal dance known as the Snowflake Saturnalia. For the Saturnalia a “queen and court were elected to reign over the winter weekend events.” In this event, a snow sculpture contest was held in addition to a ski meet, a hockey game, plays, concerts, movies, and fraternity parties. On one occasion the weather for the Saturnalia was too warm to host any of the winter festivities. The committee planning the event had a backup plan if there was a warm forecast by moving the festivities to Jiminy Peak, a mountain resort in the New England region. The outdoor events were eventually cancelled, but a last minute cocktail party was thrown together turning what could have been a disastrous event into a great evening.

The Winter Weekend, as it was known in the mid-1900s, was very popular but eventually disappeared in the early 1970s. The Undergraduate Council brought it back in 1978 and it was held in February in the hope that there would be plenty of snow. The format of Winter Carnival changed from 1982–1984. The Snow Carnival became a full week of events and was around the time of the Big Red Freakout. Instead of the Saturnalia themed dance there was a semi-formal Valentine’s dance. In the week, events such as Miss Snow Carnival Pageant and the Sweetheart Slalom were prominent. While the weeklong list of events was popular, it appeared to be too much to sustain and the Winter Carnival disappeared. It wasn’t until 2009 that it resurfaced and became a staple in the yearly events for RPI.

This year at the Winter Carnival, there is a great list of things to do. From 12–4 pm on the Carnival Concourse there will be club/Greek carnival games, inflatable games, the Winter Olympics obstacle course, various student performances, a sled dog team, a caricaturist, free prizes, and food. In addition to that, there is the Rensselaer Heart Walk, the ice carving contest, the cardboard sled race, the Whiteout hockey game, and the open skate celebration afterwards. The open skate celebration has free skate rentals, desserts, and entertainment by UPAC Lights and Sound. This is a great celebration that pulls in many different aspects of the RPI campus and I encourage everyone to attend for a little bit if you can. You won’t regret it.

Congratulations to the men’s RPI Hockey Team for beating Brown University in the Big Red Freakout. It was an exciting game and the seat cushion giveaway was wonderful because it was comfortable to sit on and it was quite loud if you hit it against another one. The noise added to the already loud celebration for RPI Hockey. That’s it for this week. Hope everyone has a great long weekend!

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