Flashback Friday: Winter Carnival Then and Now

Today’s Flashback Friday celebrates all things Winter Carnival with this image from on this day in 2001. Students work diligently to finalize their statue just as our campus community saw a few nights ago during the 2019 all-nighter.

Winter Carnival is a time-honored tradition here at Michigan Tech, with its beginning taking place back in 1922 when the Student Organization presented a one-night show called the “Ice Carnival.” The show consisted of acts, whimsical displays and performances put on in the traditional circus style, with students in an assortment of costumes. The show was held in the old Amphidrome ice rink, so of course the carnival also included ice skating events, including speed and figure skating contests. The circus theme continued for the next two years and, behold, the tradition was born.

The carnival progressed and made changes as the years went on, with the addition of a Carnival Queen competition and the parade in 1928. There is film footage of the 1928 carnival available on YouTube.

A glimpse back at Winter Carnival Queen Candidates.

After 1929, there was a lapse of a few years, but in 1934 the Blue Key Fraternity took over the sponsorship of the festivities and put one on that year. The Winter Carnival of ‘34 looked more like the carnival of today, with a two-game hockey series, a parade, skiing, skating, and snowshoe races, and a dance. The focal point of carnival was the parade, with Greek organization, campus societies, and other student organizations developing elaborate floats.

1936 was the debut of the snow statues, which were built by students and student organizations, as well as local school children. As information on the building methods was passed on from year to year, the statues became bigger and more elaborate, with fine detail work and inclusion of ice art.

Decades, and nearly 100 years later, Winter Carnival continues to be a most treasured time of year for Michigan Tech. This year’s theme is “Years of Innovation STEM from this Snowy Situation.” For more information about activities, contest results, and more, please check out the official Winter Carnival website

A glimpse back at the Winter Carnival Beard Competition.

The Michigan Tech Archives will be open for Second Saturday during Winter Carnival from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, February 9. Take a break from statue gazing and stop in to see some memorabilia and photographs from Winter Carnivals gone by. For more information, please call the archives at (906) 487-2505 or e-mail copper@mtu.edu.


5 comments on “Flashback Friday: Winter Carnival Then and Now”

  • Jim hollenbeck
    February 8, 2019 at 9:28 am

    Can I get a pictorial booklet for this year? I posted my 1985 pictorial ( my sr. Year)

  • Kenneth Kok
    February 8, 2019 at 4:20 pm

    Sorry to see that there may not be a Pictorial. I was editor of the Lode in 1964 when we published the first Pictorial. We wanted to include so color pages which had to be printed in Midland. The whole thing was integrated with the black and white pages an distributed on Saturday evening. It was an interesting effort but we managed 64 pages.

  • Lindsay
    February 10, 2019 at 9:30 am

    Thanks for the comment Ken! I did see there is an event called “pictorial sales” scheduled for next week. I will check it out. You can also contact Blue Key or the Lode to verify if there is indeed a pictorial this year. Thanks for checking out our blog.

  • Lawrence (Larry) Golin
    February 14, 2019 at 12:20 am

    I will never forget the Walt Disney Castle that was built out of Ice Blocks from Portage Lake by the
    KD’s off of College Road in 1956. It was the biggest and most beautiful statue ever built by far.

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