50 years of Winter Carnival

Winter Carnival has been a Wilfrid Laurier University tradition since it originated in 1960.

At the time, it was not a team competition like it is today; instead it was simply a series of events run on campus for Laurier students.

50 years later, the carnival is still growing, with a record number of competitors involved this year on the 21 different teams.

“Winter Carnival used to be different…. It used to have the pageant which would be a Canada-wide pageant and so everyone would come here for it,” said this year’s co-ordinator Krista Korhonen.

The “Campus Queen” event was a central part of the carnival with prizes such as fur coats, diamonds and cars given away.

Alex Trebek, host of the television show Jeopardy, started his MC career hosting the pageant in one of its earlier years.

In 1970 the beauty contest came to a close as the idea of judging women based on appearance was criticized.

This year an updated version of the pageant was brought back, as teams chose three members each to compete in a costume and talent contest as well as a question period.

The judging was based on humor and creativity.

As Winter Carnival progressed, it transformed into what we see today: a week-long celebration similar to Orientation Week involving students of all academic years.

“It comes down to being involved and taking in all Laurier has to offer,” said Gaelic member Dan Towers. “This year is the 50th anniversary… and being a part of something that has been a part of Laurier’s history for half the time it’s been around is something that I think is phenomenal,” said Towers.

Winter Carnival participants have also found a way to connect with the community through their event, using some of the items gathered in the scavenger hunt to help support Sick Kids foundation.

“I think it has become such an important Laurier tradition because it brings the school together through the events and through the spirit, and it’s something we’re really working on this year,” said Korhonen.

However, when asked about what Winter Carnival was doing this year to prevent situations that have jeopardized the event’s reputation in the past, such as the now infamous Waterbuffalo’s “Black Face Scandal”, Korhonen would not comment.

To celebrate this half-century, the executive team added an extra day to the event; they have also organized a powder puff tournament and a trip to the WLU men’s hockey game on Friday.

They have also developed a carnival day during which games, movies and other events such as face painting and snow sculpting will be available not only to those involved in Winter Carnival but to any Laurier student.

As Korhonen explained, it is their intention to bring the entire school together to make the carnival like what it was 50 years ago.

“Its tough for a committee or a different group on campus to run an event that can include tons of different students on campus and Winter Carnival is a way for absolutely anybody… to show their passion for the school,” said Simcoe Carmichael, a member of the team Friends Having Fun.

Towers predicts that with 50 years of success behind it, the carnival will likely continue to be an important part of Laurier tradition long into the future.