By Emily Benson and Maddy Marcus
There’s a lot of clowning around done in college, so how about a carnival to go with it?
Stony Brook set up their first ever Winterfest last Saturday at the Student Union. This free event was set up to celebrate the winter season and combat student stress with carnival games, activities and more, according to an email sent out by Timothy Ecklund, Dean of Students prior to the event.
Though students crowded the Union on Saturday afternoon, not everyone attended, or even knew about Winterfest. Here are some of the highlights of the day that you may have missed:
“Free Food.” Two of the greatest words every college student can hear. At Winterfest, students got a free lunch from a food truck parked outside the Union, all they had to do was swipe their ID Card.
“It’s a chance for students to kick back, blow off steam and let loose,” Howard Gunston, director of facilities for the Student Activities Center and the Union, said. Gunston was the man in charge of handing out the meal tickets and directing students to different activities.
8. Ice Skating
What better way to celebrate the winter than with ice skating? Outside in the parking lot behind the Union, a small, portable ice rink was set up. Students could pick out ice skates in their size and try out the rink. The rink was made of white plastic sheets that were sprayed with a thin ice coating, which made things easier for those who didn’t know how to skate, Valentine Edwards, a biochemistry major who tried out the ice rink, said.
WUSB, the university’s radio station, supplied the music for Winterfest. For the first half of the event, the station was playing carnival themed music then brought in a DJ who played more dance-like music for the remaining time. WUSB was giving out hot chocolate, popcorn and other goodies in their office on the second floor of the Union.
Carnival games could be found in the Union front lobby and side dining area. Games ranged from shooting baskets to throwing darts, and even if you didn’t win, every game was free of charge. The carnival games, prizes and ice skating rink was all provided by Great Neck Games and Productions, an event rental and production company
Victoria Santiago, the event planner for Great Neck Games, said Stony Brook contacted them about a month ago to plan for Winterfest.
“I love this kind of stuff,” Santiago said on planning Winterfest. “I’m a people person, and I love talking to students and interacting with the attendants.”
In true carnival game fashion, winning these deceitful games are harder than one would think, but still not impossible. In you won a game, you were given a ticket that you could hold on to until you wanted to claim your winnings at the prize booth, a table filled with red, blue and green stuffed frogs, monkeys and flowers.
Stony Brook ordered 500 stuffed prizes, estimating an attendance around that number. even with an hour left in the event, prizes began to run dry, leaving only around ten undesired fuzzy pink, yellow and green caterpillars to be chosen from.
In the Union ballroom students could find massages, arts and crafts tables and a Photo Booth. The photo booth had dark navy background, and purple and white snowflakes splattered on it, as well as a box of goofy props, like feather boas, hats and huge glasses, to use in the photo taking fun.
The Stony Brook Craft Center set up multiple craft tables in the Union Ballroom where students gathered with their friends to make marshmallow characters, bookmarks, buttons, and serenity candles.
Rima Madan and Nick Spiezio said they were attracted to the craft area because they saw a table full of marshmallows and a sign with Olaf, from the Disney movie, Frozen, asking students if they wanted to build a snow man.
Tucked away in the side of the Union ballroom, a row of 9 massage chairs stood in a row, each with a professional masseuse by its side waiting to help students relieve some of that crazy, midterm stress. Each masseuse started with a shoulder rub, lower and upper back massage, and finished off with a relaxing hand massage.
“The massages were really nice,” Spiezio said. He also said he recommends them to anyone who came to Winterfest.
Overall, Winterfest was fun! It was an event planned to let students relax in the midst of a busy start to the semester and to help them ease their cabin fever brought on by the snow, according to Gunston. About 500 students showed up to Winterfest, and some didn’t even plan on coming and were caught up in the wave just by walking through the Union.
“I just got the email this morning,” Rima Madan said.
Gunston said depending on the popularity of Winterfest, the university may do something like it again next year. And by the looks of the event, it was quite a hit.
“It’s a good idea,” Valentine Edwards said. “I hope that Stony Brook can do a lot more events like this.”