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Visiting Carnival 44-year tradition for Tech grads

HOUGHTON – Many people have attended the Michigan Technological University Winter Carnival more than once, but for one group of Tech grads the tradition has lasted for 44 consecutive winters.

Jim Accetta, who graduated in 1973 with degree in mechanical engineering, said he; his wife, Sally; Ed Anderson; Carl Benz; his wife, Rena; and Dan Bonner and his wife, Frankie, almost always make the journey each winter. This year, however, Benz and Bonner didn’t come due to illness.

Benz was his roommate, Accetta said, and Anderson and Bonner lived across the dorm hall.

Accetta said during his four years at Tech he also attended each Winter Carnival. He was involved with making a snow statue one year.

“In 1973, Douglass Houghton Hall petitioned (Winter Carnival organizers) Blue Key to allow us in Class A,” he said.

Class A was supposed to be for fraternities only, but Accetta said because Douglass Houghton Hall was such a cohesive unit, it was allowed into Class A. The hall’s entry, Three Bears, won.

“We won the Winter Carnival overall,” he said. “The fraternities couldn’t believe somebody could beat them.”

Accetta said he and Sally live in Delray Beach, Florida, for six months of the year. The other six months they travel. He’s retired from General Motors and General Dynamics.

The visits to Winter Carnival started as a way to see the Tech hockey team and to visit with friends, Accetta said. Then in 1977, they started bringing their children, and the journey with the four classmates and their families became a tradition.

Sally Accetta said she graduated from Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, but she and Jim lived for a while in married students housing in Daniell Heights. She enjoys coming to Winter Carnival for the statues and other events, but she also enjoys shopping, and visiting the restaurants and bars.

“I love it all,” she said. “It’s kind of a time to be a kid again.”

Anderson, who lives in Southgate near Detroit, said he graduated from Tech in 1972 with a degree in electrical engineering.

The tradition of coming back for Winter Carnival grew naturally.

“As the years went by, it was just coming to see old friends,” he said.

Accetta said although the snow statues were generally larger when he was at Tech, the statues now are superior in one aspect.

“The details and the lettering are much better,” he said.

As long as the health of the group’s members holds, Accetta said he expects the trips to Winter Carnival will continue.

“I think so,” he said.