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Tuesday, Dec 5, 2023

Return of Winter Carnival sees alterations for weather and Covid-19

Students watch the winter carnival ski races at the Snow Bowl. (Courtesy of Lucy Emptage)
Students watch the winter carnival ski races at the Snow Bowl. (Courtesy of Lucy Emptage)

Middlebury celebrated the 99th annual Winter Carnival on Feb. 18 and 19, with slight alterations due to weather and Covid-19 restrictions. 

Due to icy conditions at the Snow Bowl, students watching the annual ski races were asked not to hike the hill and instead gathered outside of the lodge. The Winter Ball, typically hosted by Middlebury College Activities Board (MCAB) on Saturday evening was also replaced by a Winter Wonderland Carnival in Virtue Field House. The new event included games such as mini golf, bubble soccer, laser tag and inflatables.

According to MCAB Social Executive Karina Sharma ’22, this year's Winter Carnival resembled the traditional pre-pandemic Winter Carnivals more than the 2021 Winter Carnival, which took place over a week rather than a weekend. However, Covid-19 guidelines remained a significant part of the planning process. 

“We worked very hard to make sure that this winter carnival was as fun as it could be and as safe as it could be,” Sharma said. “Unfortunately, a ball was not able to happen with the current Covid-19 guidelines.”

Other Winter Carnival events hosted by MCAB on Friday and Saturday included a movie night, bonfire, silent disco and trivia night. On Friday night, Middlebury’s tap group “On Tap” performed to an audience of over 100 students.

Some students felt that Winter Carnival events were not well publicized. Nick Luo ’23 enjoyed Winter Carnival, but said he had difficulty accessing information about events. 

“The student activity board [Presence] did not have enough information,” Luo said. “I didn’t know what was happening at the Snow Bowl. I had to hear from friends about the Snow Bowl, the arcade and the fireworks because we never received an email about it.” 

Activities at the Snow Bowl were altered due to weather and safety conditions, rather than Covid-19 precautions. In the past, it was tradition for students attending the ski races on Saturday to hike up the Allen trail to watch the races. However, in the days prior to Winter Carnival, Middlebury faced temperatures of 50 degrees Fahrenheit, followed by freezing temperatures as low as 10 degrees, creating sheets of ice on the mountain. Middlebury Ski Patrol determined the conditions were too icy for students to hike, so students watched from the bottom of the trail instead.