Winter Carnival needs to refocus on winter and past

by Tyler Newby | 2/11/94 6:00am

Has Carnival lost its purpose? '97s have probably heard upperclassmen saying "Carnival is overrated. Green Key is THE weekend now." Sadly, Carnival has fallen from its position as the biggest weekend, to the weakest, behind both Homecoming and Green Key.

Unfortunately, the only characteristic that seems to separate Carnival from other weekends is that there are more parties, which are insanely overcrowded. Perusing through old issues of The Dartmouth and the Aegis, one can easily deduct that Carnival's past is far richer than its present. Is there a way to stop Carnival from becoming a dying festival?

The answer is a mixture of the past and present. First, one must examine Carnival's original purpose. Many falsely believe that the College established Winter Carnival to bring women to Hanover so that they would brighten the lonely winter at an all-male college in the middle of New Hampshire.

True, Carnival eventually assumed a romantic aspect, but the weekend began as a celebration of the outdoors. Fred Harris '11, founder of the Dartmouth Outing Club, organized the first Carnival in 1911 to celebrate the beauty of the New Hampshire winter. Students attended ski races, snowshoe races, hockey games and basketball games.

Somewhere in Carnival's 84-year history, this purpose got lost in a snow drift. The main concern students seem to have for the outdoors now is how far they have to walk before they can cram themselves into the next overcrowded fraternity basement. I'm not saying that parties are bad. However, Carnival needs something other than just another party to distinguish itself as a unique weekend.

Unlike Green Key and Homecoming, Carnival lacks one focal event that effectively brings the community together. Homecoming has the bonfire and Green Key has the lawn party at Alpha Delta fraternity, as well as other events on the Green.

Although Carnival has ski races and Opening Ceremonies, these were sparsely attended by students last year. Most students seem to forget the "Winter" aspect of Winter Carnival. I even recall last year hearing one student describe how he planned on sitting in his room in an alcohol-induced coma for the entire weekend.

The initiative to restore Carnival to its past grandeur lies with the student body. The Carnival Council has organized the Winter Games and, of course, there are a number of ski races. However, the individual student must take it upon him or herself to participate in these events, and to bring the "carnival" atmosphere back to the weekend.

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