This year, ACUB and Residence Life created an event called the Winter Festival. The celebration was meant to welcome students back on campus and help them appreciate the winter season. It took place on Jan. 30th in McIntyre Mall, Dow Science Center and the Rec Center.
“ACUB and residence life just sat down and came up with the ideas,” said Jennifer Kowalczyk, coordinator of student activities/organizations.
“Grand Valley State University was hosting a winter festival the weekend after us so both myself and their student activities director were in contact about different ideas and what would and what would not.”
As the event was being planned, many Alma alumni approached the planning committee to inform them that this was not something new to the campus. A tradition that began in the 1960s, known back then as “Snow Carnival,” had many similar happenings as the modern-day Winterfest.
“This will definitely become a yearly tradition at Alma, hopefully getting bigger and bigger every year,” said Kowalczyk. “We already decided to reach out to past alumni and even get faculty and staff and other student organizations involved.”
There were many incidents that occurred during the duration of the commemoration: a hot chocolate and ice cream bar, a variety of “winter” Carnival games, a wood sign making station, a winter gnome making station, a campus-wide snowball fight, a volleyball tournament and a crowning of Winter Court Royalty.
During the 60s, the crowning was only open to women but was opened to all who were nominated this year, freshmen-juniors.
“I think this event was very successful,” said Kowalczyk. “We had around 85 total people combined at both locations so as a new event that is a great number especially during COVID times.”
The Winter Court was designed to exclude seniors since only seniors can be involved in the court during homecoming. Despite this, many students still enjoyed all the events that went on.
“I believe students loved this event,” said Kowalczyk. “We have heard a lot of positive feedback after the event, and it gave the students something different to do than the every other weekend events.”
When it came to picking who would end up on the Winter Court, the choice was up to the student body. Students were able to vote for their friends or whoever they wanted to nominate onto the court.
“When I found out I made court, it made me feel super appreciative,” said Sara Lesnesky (’22). “I have such great friends here on campus and I think getting on court reflected them and how great and supportive friends they are to me. It definitely made me feel honored to get to represent Alma in an event that I hope takes off in the future.”
The idea of Winterfest seemed to sit well with the students. Many were excited for a new event like this to come to campus, despite the lack of communication about all the occurrences.
“My impression of Winterfest when I first heard about it was kind of exciting,” said Lesnesky. “It reminded me of when we were in high school again and had something to look forward to other than just homecoming, kind of like the normal snow fest or winter-themed dance that we
always had. I thought it was super underrated and if it were maybe better marketed it could have been a super popular event.”
It is likely that Winterfest is going to become a yearly custom here at Alma College, per all the great feedback and different activities that were provided. Like the tradition of Snow Carnival that started in the 60s, Alma is creating a brand-new version of that but with a more modern twist.