Students plan snow sculpture despite cancellation

by Sonia Qin | 1/19/17 2:20am


After an unusually warm day, the majority of the snow melted on the Green.

After learning that the Winter Carnival Council would not be building the traditional snow sculpture this year, Mercedes de Guardiola ’17 reached out to fellow students to build their own sculpture, saying that she wanted to keep the tradition alive. As of press time, 100 students have expressed interest in helping and several have volunteered to lead the project.

Last Friday, the Winter Carnival Council sent a message to campus saying that they will not provide focus or funding for an official snow sculpture this year, marking the second year that this annual tradition has been canceled.

The email that was sent to campus said that the decision was made because of “increasingly warm winters with limited snowfall, many years of declining involvement from the student body at large and an absence of student leadership for the construction of a sculpture this year.”

In response to the announcement, de Guardiola reached out to Dartmouth Outing Club vice president Kenzie Clark ’17, who then sent out an email to DOC members asking if anyone would be interested in helping to build a snow sculpture.

“We keep getting told that students are not interested in doing this, and that the traditions are falling apart because no one wants to do it,” de Guardiola said. “I want to prove that wrong – the students care about these traditions.”

de Guardiola said that her family has always loved the snow sculpture tradition and that the youth population of New England used to come to Hanover specifically to see it.

Director of the Collis Center Anna Hall said that Winter Carnival would still retain its spirit, despite the lack of an official sculpture.

“Snow sculptures are just one part of the weekend,” Hall said. “Winter Carnival has a lot of different events, and the spirit of celebrating winter is certainly still there.”

Some of the other events that students can look forward to for Winter Carnival include the Polar Bear Swim, human dogsled races, the ice sculpture contest, a winter ball and live owls that Collis will be bringing in to celebrate this year's theme. 

“The overarching tradition of Winter Carnival is celebrating Dartmouth’s location in cold, snowy New Hampshire and embracing that for the weekend through outdoor activities, occasionally indoor activities and winter sports,” associate director of the Collis Center David Pack said. 

Hall added that normally the planning process for the snow sculpture begins in the fall, so finding a student leader for the project now would be too difficult.

Benjamin Nelson ’17 assisted in the building of the snow sculpture in his freshman year and was snow sculpture chair in his sophomore year, the last year there was an official College-sponsored sculpture. Nelson was also part of the student volunteer group that built the sculpture last year.

“People just do not want to go out into the cold and build a snow sculpture for hours and work on it,” Nelson said, adding that the atmosphere at the College is not conducive to large-scale student projects requiring significant time commitments.

He said that students are too busy to build a substantial snow sculpture that would be sizable, recognizable and safely constructed.

Nelson also noted that when the College sponsored the event in the past the snow would be gathered in large quantities from campus. Panels of wood would be used to create a mold which would be filled with snow and water, turning into ice-snow overnight and allowing students to carve the snow sculpture, Nelson said. He added that for last year’s student-initiated sculpture, students had to gather snow by themselves.

de Guardiola said that her plan is to begin construction the week before Winter Carnival in order to make sure weather conditions will permit the building of a snow sculpture.

The snow will probably be gathered from the snow mounds around campus, she said, adding that as Collis will not be contributing to the project, it may be more difficult to acquire snow in large quantities like in past years.

“Seeing the student body come together for this project would probably be the highlight of my time at Dartmouth,” de Guardiola said.

Peter Charalambous contributed reporting.

Mercedes de Guardiola is a member of The Dartmouth staff.

Correction Appended (January 19, 2017):

The original version of this article attributed quotes made by director of the Collis Center Anna Hall to associate director of the Collis Center David Pack, and vice versa. The article has been updated so that the quotes are correctly attributed.