Winter Carnival adapts to COVID-19

A gingerbread house made by Kat McClain, Wren Chlystek and Izzy Puelio. Photo by Alana Melvin.

Lawrence’s annual Winter Carnival started on Monday, Jan. 31, and will conclude on Saturday, Feb. 5, with an indoor karaoke night in the Mead Witter Room of the Warch Campus Center. This event is led and organized by the Student Organization for University Programming (SOUP).  

Winter Carnival is SOUP’s major event in Winter Term, according to senior Sabrina Salas, co-president of SOUP, and it consists of winter-themed events for a week. Junior Taeen Jidaan, co-president of SOUP, said Winter Carnival is “to celebrate cold without talking about it negatively.”  

COVID-19 has led to changes in this year’s Winter Carnival, including the postponing of the President’s Ball to Spring Term. The President’s Ball is an annual event in which students dress up, dance to a live band and take photos with friends. It is traditionally the final event of Winter Carnival.  

Salas said that COVID-19 brought many restrictions that led to postponing the President’s Ball, particularly the capacity limit of 50 people in the Somerset Room and a restriction on bringing a live band to campus. Salas added that President’s Ball attracted 1000-1200 students in pre-COVID-19 years, and the hope is to see the President’s Ball on that scale again in the spring.  

Sophomores Emma Vasconez, Sydney Seeley and Gigi Wood build a gingerbread house. Photo by Alana Melvin.

The planning process for Winter Carnival has been hectic, according to Salas, since they were not sure which events would be allowed under the changing COVID-19 protocols. Before the recent change of Lawrence’s operational status to yellow light, university-sponsored trips were not allowed, so SOUP had to cancel a skiing trip. The week of the carnival, COVID-19 also led to the cancellation of a crocheting event. The amount of uncertainty led to the idea of potentially cancelling Winter Carnival, according to Salas. 

After SOUP decided to host Winter Carnival, events were planned and finalized last-minute. Members of SOUP, President of LUCC Kelsi Bryant and Brittany Bell, the Associate Dean for Diversity, Engagement and Student Leadership, participated in finalizing the details for the week, according to Jidaan.  

The events which were able to move forward were a gingerbread house–making competition, a Phineas and Ferb S’winter festival event and grocery bag bingo (a team bingo game in which prizes are bags of snacks) from Monday to Thursday.  

There will also be a “U Stuff It” event (making stuffed animals) in Mead Witter on Friday, Feb. 4, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., as well as a showing of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” film in the cinema at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. Broomball (a hockey game played with broom sticks and plastic broomballs) on Ormsby Lake will be on Saturday, Feb. 5, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., and a karaoke night in Mead Witter will be from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. 

While the gingerbread house–making competition, grocery bag bingo and broomball are all traditional Winter Carnival events, SOUP wanted to incorporate a few new events into the annual carnival. It was Salas’s idea to incorporate a “Phineas and Ferb”-inspired S’winter party theme into Winter Carnival.  

According to Salas, characters from the S’winter episode use a snow machine to create winter during summer. She thought it could be a fun twist to instead bring summer into the wintertime. SOUP decorated Ormsby Lake with summer and beach decorations and students received free sunglasses and flip flops on Wednesday.