The tug-of-war competition of 1963
Winter Carnival was a Brockport Normal School tradition that started on February 4, 1940. Students wanted to celebrate the completion of exams with a seasonal festivity, and so the Winter Carnival was born. It was characterized by many contests and games including fox-and-geese, tug-of-war, relays, bag races, snowshoe races, skating contests, and the best snowman competition. Women from the local Baptist Church put on a meal for the students that first evening, and singing was provided to accompany the meal.
In the following year, 1941, another Winter Carnival was held, but that would be the last for six years. It was not until January of 1947 that the college decided to revitalize the tradition. Many events were planned for that weekend including sleigh rides, snowball fights, snow sculpture contests, ice skating, and singing.
A king and queen were crowned and an informal dance was held Saturday night in the gymnasium where the students danced to the music of the Four Sharps. Part of Sunday was spent in the auditorium where a mock quiz show was held. Students could also participate in a fashion show, or just indulge in the refreshments provided.
The King and Queen step on the floor at 1963's "Nordic Mist" formal dance
The following year, 1948, the Winter Carnival turned into "Cupid’s Carnival", and was held on the weekend of February 13-15. Tickets were sold for $2.00 a person, and they covered all the weekend’s events. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate and the students had to deal with rain rather than snow. Friday evening was supposed to start the festivities with sleighriding and ice skating, followed by refreshments of cocoa and cookies in the cafeteria, and singing in the lounge. However, a hayride was provided instead, and the students played cards and danced afterwards.
Saturday events started in the afternoon with a snow sculpture competition (even if the rain had deteriorated the sculpture conditions), an exhibition by the Ski Club, and snowshoe trials. The afternoon was supposed to be filled with skiing, but the slushy conditions produced a snowball fight, instead. The Cupid Dance was held on Saturday night, and it was more formal this year. Students were told it was a "dress and pumps" affair. The Lord and Lady de L’Amour of Brockport State were announced then.
An entry in 1964's snowsculpture competition
1949 brought another name change for Winter Carnival. This year it picked up a Mardi Gras theme and was held the first weekend in February. The same activities that had been held in previous celebrations were scheduled to take place during Mardi Gras. The dance was called the Snow Ball this year, and the King and Queen of Mardi Gras were crowned at the dance.
There is no record of a celebration in 1950, but in 1951 the Winter Carnival was revived. Friday night kicked off events with a splash party and an old clothes dance. On Saturday some members of the faculty judged the snow sculpture contest. Then hot chocolate was served to spectators after the intramural basketball game. The somewhat formal Snow Ball dance again made an appearance as Brockport students danced to the Wright Sextette and chose a King and Queen. Sunday’s festivities included a hayride, vocal numbers, and skits performed by the Collegiate Club.
Winter Carnival became consistently popular in the 1950’s. Events like basketball games, treasure hunts, hayrides, and cross-country ski races became popular events, with classes in competition with one another. Each year had a theme; in 1955 it was a Fairytale theme, and in 1956 it was Mardi Gras again, with a Masquerade Ball. Winter Carnival of 1957 was characterized with a dawn pajama party and a performance by a band called "Guys and Dolls" in the gymnasium.
Winter Carnival’s popularity remained strong into the 1960’s. It had grown so much that preparations were made as early as Thanksgiving for the much anticipated event. Some events began to take place off campus; for example, in 1966, students were transported to Bristol Mountain for a ski trip. The last reported Winter Carnival celebration occurred in 1969.
Students ski at the Fancher campus in 1964
Gifford Morgan & the cornerstone