Last month, the world’s most famous groundhog saw his shadow. According to legend, this means that the already long and frigid winter would continue for a few more weeks, giving Rensselaer plenty of time (and snow) to celebrate with the annual Winter Carnival. This year’s event, titled “Arctic Frost,” was held Feb. 15 at the East Campus Athletic Village.
The free carnival—held for students, faculty, staff, and their families—featured a series of winter-themed activities, including ice skating, carnival games hosted by Rensselaer Union student organizations and members of Greek life, food, live music, and comedic performances by student groups. Other highlights included Winter Olympic-style competitions that featured a human dogsled race, three-legged races, an “egg on a spoon” race, and a ball balance race; along with a cardboard sled race, and ice-block carving and snow sculpture contests.
Members of the campus community were also invited to attend and support the Rensselaer women’s ice hockey team as they played their last game of the season against Cornell. Immediately following the game, fans were invited to attend an open skate party held in the Houston Field House.
The carnival was supported by the Office of the President and members of the Cabinet, along the Division of Student Life and the Rensselaer Union.
Midwinter festivities with various names have come and gone over the years at Rensselaer. According to information compiled by the Rensselaer Institute Archives and Special Collections, in 1949 the junior class planned a “Snowflake Saturnalia” dance in lieu of the Junior Prom.
The Rensselaer Outing Club organized outdoor activities during the 24 hours leading up to Saturnalia and dubbed it “Winter Weekend.” The schedule of events included skating, “amusing games” on ice, a snow sculpture contest, and bobsled, snowshoe, and ski races.—Jessica Otitigbe