Keepers of the Light: Tau Kappa Epsilon Voyages to MTU Winter Carnival Snow Statue Victory

The 2024 winning statue entry at Michigan Technological University's Winter Carnival titled “The Lighthouse Shines the Way as the Ranger Heads to Bay.”
The 2024 winning statue entry at Michigan Technological University's Winter Carnival titled “The Lighthouse Shines the Way as the Ranger Heads to Bay.”
“The Lighthouse Shines the Way as the Ranger Heads to Bay” features both extraordinary detail and exceptional effort. TKE members went the extra mile this year to obtain the cleanest snow they could find off-site.

Renderings of iconic Copper Country sights, from the National Park Service vessel Ranger III to the Keweenaw Waterway’s Lower Entrance Light, earned Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) first place in the 2024 Michigan Technological University Winter Carnival overall monthlong snow statue competition.

Winter Carnival organizers, the Michigan Tech chapter of Blue Key National Honor Society, announced the 2024 snow statue winners in the afternoon on Thursday, Feb. 8. Teams in monthlong and one-night categories created statues based on the overall Carnival theme “From Forests to Shores We Love the Outdoors.”

“The Lighthouse Shines the Way as the Ranger Heads to Bay” put TKE in the top spot for the first time since 2018. The Hancock-based Phi Kappa Tau, coming off a five-year winning streak, was awarded second place with its “Gilligan’s Island”-themed “Just Sit Back and See A Tale, A Tale of A Fateful Trip.” Alpha Sigma Tau took third place with “Step Out Your Door and Explore the vAST Outdoors.”

Monthlong Snow Statue Division Results

Of the 11 overall monthlong statue entries, Tau Kappa Epsilon and Phi Kappa Tau also placed first and second, respectively, in the men’s division. Lambda Chi Alpha’s “It Takes some Fungis to Build Micro Nature at this Size” earned third. Alpha Sigma Tau took first as the sole entrant in the women’s division.

In the co-ed monthlong division, Sigma Phi Epsilon and Delta Zeta took the top spot with their entry “From Lakes to Shores Together We Soar: We Row in the Snow Forever More.” Alpha Gamma Delta and Beta Sigma Theta earned second place with “Local Pride Where Nature’s Secrets in Beauty Hide.” Delta Sigma Phi and Delta Phi Epsilon captured third with “To National Parks We Go Through Frozen Paths of Snow.”

All-Nighter Overall Snow Statue Results

St. Albert the Great University Parish Campus Catholic Ministries earned first overall in the one-night building competition, as it has for nine out of the last 10 years. St. Al’s winning statue was titled — via haiku — “Adventure Awaits. Didn’t Noah Have a Canoe? Bring on the Animals!” Douglass Houghton Hall took second and MTU Sailing Club placed third.

All-Nighter Snow Statue Division Results

Of the 55 total one-night entries, St. Al’s also earned the top spot in the co-ed division, with Douglass Houghton Hall and MTU Sailing Club in second and third, respectively. In the women’s division, the Society of Women Engineers placed first. In the men’s All-Nighter division, Toll House 1 placed first, with 4D Wadsworth Hall in second and Knight House in third.

Snow Chapel is a Go

In addition to sculpting their all-night competition winner, the St. Al’s community has also been hard at work creating the space for its annual Winter Carnival Ice Masses, held in the Ice Chapel of Our Lady of the Snows. Fr. Ben Hasse said carrying on the tradition that began in 2016 has been challenging this year. He said the ice altar, “a nice slab from Chassell Bay,” arrived early Thursday afternoon, but the overall structure was “looking rough.” However, the Masses will go forward regardless, moving inside in the event of rain. “There’ll be people and food no matter what,” said Hasse. All are welcome. Stay tuned to the St. Al’s Facebook page for regular updates and livestreaming details.

Huskies Weather Tough Conditions

This year’s competition came on the heels of multiple cancellations of other regional winter events due to warm, dry conditions. A lack of early January snow meant competitors in the monthlong division got just over three weeks  of construction time — but in usual Husky Nation mode, they made the most of their available materials, engineering skills and ingenuity. Even the spate of rain at 8:30 p.m. during the All-Nighter did not deter Huskies from making the most of a 102-year Tech tradition.

TKE working on their first-place snow statue during Winter Carnival 2024 all-nighter.
TKE puts the finishing touches on their winning snow statue entry during Tech's traditional all-nighter on Wednesday.

“Creative.” “Resilient.” “Adaptive.” “Did not give up.” These were the words used to describe statue builders in all divisions by the judging panel of campus and community members making the rounds early Thursday morning.

Overall Winter Carnival winners will be announced later this weekend. For a complete list of all the Winter Carnival statue winners and events happening throughout the weekend, visit the Michigan Tech Winter Carnival website. Find more photos to enjoy, download and share on Michigan Tech Flickr.

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.