COVID, warm temps can’t stop all-nighter

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Alton Proctor, a first-year mechanical engineering student at Michigan Technological University, wows the crowd with his firebreathing skills along College Avenue Wednesday night.

HOUGHTON — Despite smaller crowds and fewer amenities, Michigan Technological University students did their best to maintain Winter Carnival spirit during an abnormal year for Wednesday’s all-nighter.

As other students milled around or took photos, builders put finishing touches on their statues, which had to be finished by 9 p.m.

Theta Chi Epsilon and Sigma Phi Epsilon members collaborated on a tableau celebrating the film “Madagascar.” With social distancing required and a cap of 25 people working on status at a time, it was harder to take advantage of nights where a lot of members were free, said Theta Chi Epsilon member Tylore Baker, a fourth-year mechanical engineering major. But aside from reminding each other to put on masks when heading out to the statue, or the occasional fogged lenses, it wasn’t a big obstacle, she said.

“It’s planning — if you have a big shift, bring an extra mask,” Baker said.

“It’s all totally fine,” said Mykayla Camberg, a third-year chemical engineering major. “We’re all very willing to do what we can.”

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Theta Chi Epsilon member Tylore Baker, a fourth-year mechanical engineering major at Michigan Tech, works on the “Madagascar” statue Wednesday night.

Baker found an advantage to the safety protocols: “Your face stays a lot warmer.”

A bigger hurdle was the lack of snow. A large snowfall a couple of weeks before the all-nighter prevented the need to call on the community to bring snow in. But the paucity of snow and warm temperatures still forced statue builders to adjust their plans.

Their statue of Melman the giraffe was built with an arched neck. With the warm weather, a freestanding neck wouldn’t have held up, said third-year chemical engineering student Braden Gunderson, who designed the statue. Marty the zebra’s treadmill also fell prey to temperature concerns.

But Gunderson’s plans — the walkway of plants, the posing of Gloria the hippopotamus, or the way the lip of the bell on the clock tower is more pronounced make it stand out — mostly survived the transition to snow.

“This main part is exactly how I drew it,” he said. “It’s exactly how I wanted it. Every character is in the perfect position.”

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Builders work on a “Steamboat Willie” statue outside the Sigma Tau Gamma house Wednesday night.

Near MacInnes Drive, Delta Sigma Phi and Beta Pi were working on a giant collection of Pokemon — 22 so far, said Delta Sigma Phi statue chair Dane Riha.

He also pegged the unseasonable weather as a hardship. They had hoped for more mass, but there wasn’t enough clean snow, he said. Warmth also took a toll.

“Things start melting and you kind of get a sheen to them,” he said. “Sometimes it’s not what you want when you want texture on your site.” With everything, he feels bad for the first-year students who hadn’t experienced the Carnivals of the past.

But Wednesday night’s weather was perfect for the allnighter, he said.

“Most of us aren’t even wearing shirts,” he said.

Students kept walking down College Avenue, where Greek houses had snow statues — and in one case, a firebreather — Alton Proctor, a first-year mechanical engineering student.

It’s one of the newest skills picked up by Proctor, who also performed spinning staff and rope dart. A member of Sigma Phi Epsilon, he had first hoped to perform next to their “Madagascar” statue on campus.

Despite the changes, Carnival has still been fun, he said.

“Even if the school would have turned it away and said ‘No Carnival,’ we still would have had Carnival,” he said. “You can’t really take this away from us.”

One of the events that remained was a karaoke booth, where second-year environmental engineering student Victoria Buschard roused the crowd with a rendition of before being carried off by second-year biomedical engineering student Jared Martini. It was literally an impossible act to follow, as the karaoke organizers closed the event early to disperse the crowd.

The favorite part for both was the snow statues they built: “Phineas & Ferb” for Buschard, “Peanuts” for Martini.

“It’s awesome that the Tech culture thrives even during COVID,” Martini said.

“It’s nice to still feel the spirit of Tech,” said Buschard. “It still feels like Tech, and all the reasons I wanted to come here.”


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