While Hancock ranked third on The Weather Channel's list of snowiest cities (for the second consecutive year to boot), statue-building material was not in the forecast for Michigan Tech students.
Not even a trace of snow fell as I trucked around campus Wednesday, hours after Winter Carnival's All-Nighter got under way. Bare sidewalks and grassy patches were telltale signs of an unusually mild winter. And, the few snowbanks I did see were no taller than the Sorels I had on my feet.
Nonetheless, the festivities were in full swing.
Clouds of steam poured from vendor booths where students were dishing up the usual carnival fare - deep-fried candy bars, grilled cheese sammies and hot dogs. Even pickled eggs made a debut this year.
While I opted out of any deep-fried indulgence, I did, however, try a round of winter bowling the Michigan Tech Pep Band was heading up.
They stuck out like a sore thumb, dressed in black- and yellow-striped overalls. And while I wasn't exactly sure of the official game rules, one of the guys said to knock as many of the pins (ice-filled 20-ounce plastic pop bottles) down in two tries.
As my coworkers and I stepped up to the lanes, pep band member Grant Cox introduced us to the crowd. Four of us went head to head with two balls (duct tape wrapped frozen disks made from 2-liter pop jugs) each. At the count of three, it was all over.
In one clean sweep, Stacey took out all six pins. As for myself, I nailed a measly three.
At the center of campus, bass pumped from the snow speakers as the DJ kicked out tunes, luring a mob of dancers. Revelers really come out of the woodwork for Winter Carnival. One guy was dressed in a yellow banana costume, had ski goggles over his eyes and an obnoxiously large cowboy hat, kind of like the one Lloyd wears in "Dumb and Dumber," on his head.
Gorilla costumes, red sequined pants and a shirt that flashed with the beat of the music were other highlights. Clearly, attire was key to making yourself stand out among hundreds of students swarming campus Wednesday night.
From what I could see, lack of snow only fueled the fire for builders who were hauling in pickup truck loads of it well into the night. Shovels, irons, hoses and hatchets were just a few of the tools strewn about the work areas. Not to mention the miles of extension cords that trailed from one site to the next.
"I'm so cold," one guy shouted from his second-story seat on scaffolding set up on TKE's petting zoo statue site.
"Only 10 hours to go," one spectator encouraged.
And he was right. At that point students had 10 hours left until the 8 a.m. cutoff time.
For the heck of it, I decided I was going to set my alarm at 4 a.m. (one hour earlier than usual) just so I could head over to campus before work.
I wanted to find out who the die-hards were and ask how they were holding up.
In that case, I called it a night just before 10:30 and headed home.
To be on the safe side, I set four alarms - two on my cell phone and two on my bedside clock (of course, my phone was on silent so I never heard the first two go off).
Come morning time, I opened my eyes to find glowing red digits staring back at me. No buzzer sound, just numbers.
I must've shut it off in my sleep because I was an hour and a half behind schedule. And, since my workday starts at 6 a.m., I never made it to campus.
I guess we know who isn't the die-hard.
Kelly Fosness can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.