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The Dartmouth
April 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Winter Carnival council expresses concern about potential weather-related impacts on weekend programming

The high temperatures forecasted for the weekend may disrupt scheduled events, such as the polar bear swim and ice sculpture carving contest.


On Thursday, Feb. 8, the 114th annual Winter Carnival, whose theme this year is “Winterstellar: A Carnival in the Cosmos,” will officially begin. Under the leadership of Student Involvement director David Pack and Winter Carnival council student chairs Sophia Abati ’27, Yaniya Gilford ’27, Kathleen Stimson ’24 and Kennedy Wiehle ’25, the council has met numerous times since winterim to select poster, t-shirt and sticker designs, plan events and coordinate collaborations with other organizations, such as the Collis Governing Board and the Dartmouth Outing Club. 

Abati also said that one of the council’s main concerns for the upcoming Winter Carnival is the way weather may impact the polar bear swim — which is presently scheduled for Friday, Feb. 9, from 2 to 4:30 p.m. at Occom Pond — as the forecast indicates a high of 46℉ and a low of 35℉.

“The weather at this moment is very not in favor of Winter Carnival,” Abati said. “The snow is melting, and we’re worried that it’s possible the ice sculptures may melt.”

Ice sculpture carving for pre-registered teams will begin Friday, Feb. 9, from 3 to 10 p.m. and conclude on Saturday, Feb. 10, with the final carving session from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The ice sculptures, which will be built in front of Collis Center, Robinson Hall and McNutt Hall, will be voted on from 4 to 5 p.m. on Feb. 10, immediately following their final construction. Awards for the winning teams will then be presented on the Collis Patio beginning at 5 p.m.

According to the Winter Carnival website, there is a possibility that the polar bear swim could be canceled if it is deemed unsafe due to weather conditions.

Students expressed concern that the weather will lead to the cancellation or disruption of the polar plunge. Tyler Brand ’27 said that for many students, the polar plunge is something to look forward to.

“I’ve heard about the polar plunge,” he said. “I hope it’s cold enough that we’re doing that … I’ve heard it’s the highlight of winter term for a lot of people.”

Peter Federici ’27 said that he would be “so upset” if the polar plunge had to be canceled.

“I really want to do [the polar plunge],” Federici said. “That is one of the reasons I was so excited for Winter Carnival.”

Should safety and weather concerns impact the scheduled Winter Carnival programming, the council plans to release updates via email, their website and the Collis Center Instagram. 

Winter Carnival events will kick off this Thursday, Feb. 8, with a launch party from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Collis Common Ground. 

Student band Exit 13 will play until 7:30 p.m., which will be followed by a discussion with professor and former NASA astronaut Jay Buckey. Buckey will answer questions in honor of the carnival’s space theme. 

Abati said the theme was chosen based on a desire for inclusivity and diversity, student and alumni satisfaction and the council’s ability to create events related to the theme. 

“You want something that everyone can enjoy,” Abati said. “So, with Winterstellar, something we were thinking about was that you can celebrate diversity within astronauts.”

Other events planned for the weekend include various programming hosted by Collis After Dark,  human dog sled and snowshoe races and a Lunar New Year dragon parade. 

In addition, the Dartmouth Skiway is offering students free lift tickets redeemable on Thursday, Feb. 8, and Saturday, Feb. 11. 

A full schedule of events and lift tickets are available on the Dartmouth Winter Carnival website.