Winter Carnival Set to Begin

Students work on statue
Students work on statue
Members of Phi Kappa Tau put the finishing touches on their statue during the 2017 all-nighter. The fraternity captured the month-long competition for the ninth time in 10 years.

More than 16 feet of snow has fallen in Houghton, Michigan this winter. While that is indeed impressive, what Michigan Technological University students do with it is nothing short of magical.

Building on a tradition that began in 1922 as the “Ice Carnival,” the latest rendition of Michigan Tech’s Winter Carnival shifts into high gear Wednesday with the All-Nighter carnival-like activity on the campus and elsewhere. Winter Carnival is sponsored by Blue Key National Honor Society.

This year’s theme is “Myths and Tales of the Past in our Frigid Forecast.” Blue Key President Sarah Jo Martens says the theme is meant to open things up and challenge creativity. “With this very broad theme, we’re hoping students get out of the box,” she says. “These myths and legends could go back to ancient times or might even include campus legends. I’m excited to see what the groups come up with.”

Changes implemented last year were aimed at streamlining competitions and Martens says things worked out well. “As of last year we’ve got three categories, men’s groups, women’s groups and co-ed groups. That really seemed to work out well.”

Martens says Blue Key has made some subtle changes that most people won’t notice but should improve things. “We’ve strengthened Carnival by bringing other groups in. We’ve gotten additional sponsorships. One thing we’ve done to help people find out everything that’s going on during All-Nighter is to list all of the All-Nighter events on our schedule.” As in year’s past, music, food, games and plenty of frigid fun greet students and visitors all night long as the finishing touches are put on the statues.

"We’ve strengthened Carnival by bringing other groups in. We’ve gotten additional sponsorships."Sarah Jo Martens

Things got off to a great start Saturday, Feb. 3 when Cora Taylor was crowned Winter Carnival Queen. Taylor, who also won the Audience Choice award Saturday, will reign over all things Carnival through Sunday. She was sponsored by Delta Phi Epsilon and Swifts Hardware. Caroline Spezia was chosen runner up and Grace Carey was second runner up and Miss Congeniality.

Students attending the Queen Coronation Saturday and those attending the Stage Review Thursday, will be affected by another change this year, or at least their pocketbooks will be. “This year the Queens Coronation and Stage Review are sponsored by IRHC (Inter-resident Housing Council)” Martens said. “In the past we’ve had to charge students $5 admission to these events to cover the cost of using the Rozsa Center. Thanks to the IRHC, students get in free this year.

The downtown Houghton business community is helping launch a new Winter Carnival Tradition. “We’ve replaced the Window Painting at the SDC, with Banner Painting,” Martens says. “Banners are hung in downtown Houghton businesses, and you can vote for your favorite banner right in the store.”

A new event will have students and community members aiming for a shot at a Guiness World Record. “Snowman Left Behind” will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday in Sherman Field, the University’s football stadium.

“We’re super excited for this, its been years since we’ve attempted a world record,” Martens says. The goal is to break the Guinness Book of World Record for most snowmen built in one hour. Organizers say the current record, set in 2015 in Japan is 2,036. Martens says what makes the event extra special is that it is sponsored by organizations outside of Blue Key. “The world record attempt is sponsored by the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and the MUB Board. It’s great to have organizations like this take charge in organizing such a great event. And it’s one more activity that brings the University and local community together.”

Josh Blue is this year's Winter Carnival Comedian. Blue Key, the Rozsa Center, Student Entertainment Board and the MUB Board have partnered again this year to present the Winter Carnival Comedian.

Perhaps best known as the comedian who puts the cerebral in cerebral palsy, Blue will perform at 9 p.m. Friday at the Rozsa Center. Blue centers much of his self-deprecating act on his disability. He exploded onto the national comedy scene by capturing the attention and endearment of the country as the winner of "Last Comic Standing."

As always, the centerpiece of Winter Carnival is the gigantic snow statues. The pressure to repeat is squarely on Phi Kappa Tau fraternity, winners of nine of the last 10 statue competitions. In addition to the month-long competition, the all nighter competition challenges groups to build statues in the time period of 4 p.m. Wednesday through 8 a.m. Thursday.

WCHA Hockey is on tap during Carnival, as the Huskies are looking for their sixth straight MacInnes Cup, given to the winner of the two-game Winter Carnival Series. Tech faces WCHA foe Bemidji State. The puck drops at 7:07 p.m. Friday, and as Carnival Tradition dictates, at 5:07 Saturday in the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena.

The torchlight parade and fireworks take place at 9:15 p.m. Saturday on Mont Ripley, followed by the Snowball, returning to it’s historical start time at 9:30 p.m. at the Rozsa. For a complete schedule of Carnival Events, visit

Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.