Big turnout at carnival’s All-Nighter

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Tau Kappa Epsilon's Nordic saga takes shape during Michigan Technological University's Winter Carnival All-Nighter Wednesday.

HOUGHTON — Anyone walking through the campus of Michigan Technological University could see signs indicating temperature around zero and falling. But the students building their snow statues were just as interested in the other part of the Winter Carnival’s snow sculpture competitions: Time.

Students packed campus Wednesday night and Thursday morning to build statues — or just watch — during the carnival’s All-Nighter.

Humpty Dumptys, sea serpents and tall ships sprung up inspired by this year’s theme, “Myths and Tales of the Past in Our Frigid Forecast.”

Teams built in both month-long and one-nighter categories.

Alpha Gamma Delta’s statue was based on the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen inspired by the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale. It begins with filling their forms with snow and packing it down with water. Then comes the carving and the slushing. To accomplish that, Loryn Zeno and Rachael Violazzi had ducked into the Walker Arts Building to fill a bucket of water from the water fountain. They then add snow to the bucket and smack the mixture.

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Michigan Technological University students not busy making statues enjoyed music pounding from large stacks of snow-covered speakers.

“You’re hitting it with icepicks, which makes it really rough,” said Zeno, a second-year mechanical engineering major. “When you slush it, it makes it smooth again.”

To give it an even smoother finish, they then go over it with an iron. Wax letters still have to be applied.

Groups submit applications listing their plans for the statue. Lotteries determine which organization gets a subject, to avoid redundancy. Students begin construction after winter break.

Instead of looking to the far past, MTU’s 4-Wheelers Club found their myth closer to home: a free parking spot.

“We actually came up with the phrase first — “The Myths at Tech are Commonplace, a Student Found a Parking Space,’” said Bryce Richard, president of the club and a mechanical engineering technology senior. “It was kind of a joke, and we then we started to think about it more, and we submitted it. We never thought it would be accepted, and it was.”

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Members of Delta Zeta work on the details of their display outside the Memorial Union building.

The group was putting the finishing touches on the statue, ironing, hosing and leaving a real parking ticket on a neighboring car’s windshield.

Beyond the frenetic building, a larger crowd was there to have fun. Spectators lined the broomball rinks. Snowboarders soared and crashed at the Rail Jam. And students played a beerless pong on icy tables made by the MTU Pep Band.

“There’s a lot of people, and you usually don’t see this many people on campus, especially in the winter,” said Nick Stiles, a fifth-year mechanical engineering major in a tie game.

There were more spectators than usual due to Tech hosting a basketball game between two unbeaten Copper Country high schools: Ewen-Trout Creek and Dollar Bay.

Vendors hawked food to hungry spectators, whether grilled cheese sandwiches, deep-fried Twinkies or pasties — available for $3 and a complimentary hug.

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Members of Tau Kappa Epsilon craft the icework on their Winter Carnival entry.

Members of Tech’s Alumni Association ladled up bowls of meat and vegetarian chili to warm up a grateful crowd. They had prepared about 100 gallons, which was dwindling rapidly.

“It goes quick, especially on a cold night,” said board member Mike Peterson.

Bob Wojcik, president of the association, said he enjoys returning to campus.

“It’s good to give back,” he said.

Hot chocolate and karaoke in the Memorial Union Building ended around 11 p.m., as did the Rail Jam. Other events wrapped up around midnight, leaving statue builders to continue their work until 8 p.m.

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Members of Sigma Phi Epsilon stand on scaffolding to finish their wall.

Around 11 p.m., Cole Fleming of Tau Kappa Epsilon had crossed a lane of College Avenue to survey his fraternity’s tableau for spots of possible improvements.

They’d put in about six hours daily, five or six days a week for a full month. The fraternity was keeping the theme quiet until 8 a.m., but details appeared to include a large ship and towering soldier.

The weather had given people some days off, which had kept morale up, Fleming said. And Wednesday’s cold temperatures meant everything was freezing quickly.

“For the building itself it’s good,” he said. “For the builders, it kind of sucks.”

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Students put some detail on a statue featuring a mermaid during the All-Nighter Wednesday on the Michigan Technological University campus. Bottom: Students band together to use slush and irons to carve out details on a statue themed around parking on the Michigan Technological University campus during the All-Nighter Wednesday.

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Students band together to use slush and irons to carve out details on a statue themed around parking on the Michigan Technological University campus during the All-Nighter Wednesday.