It’s a classic archetypical narrative: the forces of fun pitted against the wintry winds, a dualistic battle to prove, once and for all, that Dartmouth knows how to throw a carnival.
That’s right: The theme of this year’s Winter Carnival—Dartmouth’s 104th—is “A Clash of Carnivals: Heroes vs. Villains.” In the coming days, the Dartmouth community will see a snowbound superhero take form in the center of the Green, to be officially unveiled at the opening ceremony, starting at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 5.
The ceremony will include a welcome from Provost Carolyn Dever, a performance by the Brovotones, and the ski team’s torch-lighting ceremony. The alpine team will be hosting races on Friday, Feb. 6 and Saturday, Feb. 7 at Dartmouth Skiway, while the Nordic team competes at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center in Craftsbury, Vt.
Carnival co-chair Katie Gibson ’15 says she expects this year’s theme to be as popular as last year’s “Carnival of Thrones,” and encourages students to don their flair and enjoy the weekend’s events. “Winter Carnival is one of Dartmouth’s greatest traditions,” she says. “It’s nice to have one weekend in the middle of the term that allows people to appreciate the weather and the outdoors.”
This year’s poster design contest winner, by Corinne Romano ’15, shows the slippery Black Ice contending with Lone Pine in front of Baker Tower. Romano’s design is the second-ever carnival poster drawn on a computer (the first was last year’s “Winter Is Coming” design by Amy Zhang ’17). This year, poster design finalists will be on view in Collis throughout the weekend.
Preparations for carnival have been visible since mid-January, when sculpture subcommittee chair Ben Nelson ’17 began recruiting volunteers to start building.
“I rope everybody in—if you set foot on the Green when I’m out there, I’m going to ask you to work for five minutes,” Nelson says. “I’ve asked complete strangers for five minutes of their time, and they’ve ended up spending two hours.”
In the absence of natural snow, truckloads of snow have been shipped in from the Skiway, and ice shavings scrounged from area skating rinks. (Today’s snowstorm should help, too.)
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Among the weekend’s highlights: an ice sculpture contest (rules and team sign-ups here), a screening of the iconic 1939 film Winter Carnival, 99-cent lift tickets at the Skiway (Dartmouth ID required), human dogsled races, arts and crafts, and, of course, the polar bear plunge in Occom Pond. (For an up-to-date schedule, visit the Collis Center website.)
“I’ve done the polar bear swim every year,” Gibson says, noting that it’s “sort of a tradition for committee members who choose” to jump in at the end of the event.
“I encourage everyone to do it at least once, just to say you did it,” she says. Her advice to novices? “Make sure to wear warm, baggy clothes. When you get out of the water, anything that’s too tight just takes way too long to put on.”
For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit the Collis Center website.