MTU Winter Carnival: Finding What Shines

Students working on snow statue at night
Students working on snow statue at night
Members of Guardians of the North put the final touches on their statue during the 2019 All-Nighter.

Winter Carnival at Michigan Technological University has been one of the Midwest’s most enduring annual events.

Sponsored by Blue Key Honor Society since 1934, Winter Carnival has been thriving for nearly a century. Familiar events and spectacles, like mammoth snow statues and NCAA Division I hockey, have been and still are its backbone.

This year’s theme “Discover What Shines from Prehistoric Times” promises to inspire both the creativity and technological savvy needed to construct the intricate, and massive, snow statues that draw thousands to Houghton, Michigan each February.


There’s more than statue construction at the all-nighter with a wonderful variety of games, contests, music and unbelievable food sold by student organizations. New this year is the Winter Pump Track, a free event sponsored by C4, the Copper Country Cycling Club at Michigan Tech, from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in front of Douglass Houghton Hall. Proving that biking is as much fun in the winter as it is in the summer, the Winter Pump Track offers an exciting track made of snow and ice. The event is free with helmets and bikes provided.

Women at the Helm

This year, for the first time, every leadership position of Michigan Tech’s Blue Key Chapter, and consequently, that of Winter Carnival, is held by a woman. While the chapter has had presidents and other officers who were women, this year marks the only time women have held all of the positions that comprise the executive board simultaneously. 

Blue Key President Clara Peterson says the milestone is significant. “ While the numbers show there’s more men than women at Michigan Tech, our all-female board demonstrates that anyone can be a leader here.” 

The Blue Key Board is just one example of the changing face of MTU. This year’s fall enrollment shows not only the largest class of female first-year students ever, but the largest number of women overall, at just under 29% of the student body.

Winter Carnival Court

This year’s Winter Carnival Queen is Riley Simpson, a mechanical engineering senior from the Chicago area. Her sponsors were Guardians of the North and Cyberia Café. First runner-up is Dana Anderson and second runner-up is Abby Bevilacqua, who also earned the Audience Choice Award. The Congeniality Award went to Josie Fiore. 

Carnival Comedian

Rising stand-up comedy star Aaron Kominos-Smith takes the stage of the Rozsa Center twice this week. At 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Kominos-Smith will keep the audience laughing between skits as host of the Winter Carnival State Revue. Tickets are $10 for the general public and no charge for Michigan Tech students.

On Friday, he’ll have the big stage all to himself as this year’s Winter Carnival Comedian. Kominos-Smith has appeared on Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer, MTV, NextVR Network and American Movie Classic. Audiences connect instantly with his charming wit and energetic characters. Tickets for the general public are $10 in advance, $15 at the door and free to Tech students.

Hockey Huskies are Hungry

WCHA hockey is always a high point of Carnival, and this year looks to be especially exciting. Last year the Huskies were thwarted in their bid for a seventh consecutive MacInnes Cup, awarded to the total-goal winner of the two-game series, by Minnesota State in two thrilling overtime contests. In order to reclaim the cup, named after legendary Husky coach John MacInnes, Tech must get past Upper Peninsula rival Lake Superior State Lakers.

Carnival aside, the series is important for the Huskies who currently sit in fifth place in the WCHA standings, eight points better than the seventh-place Lakers. The puck drops at 7:07 p.m. Friday and 5:07 p.m. Saturday in the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.

The torchlight parade and fireworks display begin at 8:45 p.m. Saturday on Mont Ripley. Events conclude Saturday with the SnoBall — a dance for students celebrating Winter Carnival at 9 p.m. at the Rozsa Center. Visit for a complete schedule of Carnival events. 

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.