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The Blue & Gray Press | August 24, 2019

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UPC dreams up winter wonderland



Old Man Winter finally decided to show his face in Fredericksburg, ushering in a week of freezing temperatures just in time for the University of Mary Washington to kick off its annual Winter Carnival on Friday night. Almost every floor of Lee Hall was bustling with activity as the carnival promised fun and entertainment, with a focus on charity, community, and competition.

Winter Carnival was hosted by the University Programming Council, or UPC, a student-based group that makes on-campus events like Tuesday Acoustic Night and Hahas for Tatas possible.

According to UPC Vice President Karmel James, this year’s Winter Carnival gained valuable support from other UMW groups, like Alpha Mu Sigma and Future Business Leaders of America.

“They do help with actually making the event possible by providing volunteers,” James said.

Volunteers from the three groups manned various tables throughout Lee Hall.  Students could have their picture taken and adhered to water bottles or slipped into snow globes. Hot chocolate was available for sipping as students wandered Lee Hall or ice-skated in the Great Hall.

For some volunteers, Winter Carnival was a chance to socialize and get involved in the Mary Washington community.  Juniors Amanda Motley and Natalie Tomlinson, both spring transfers to UMW, agreed that the Winter Carnival was an opportunity to meet other students while planning special events.

“It was something to get involved with,” Motley noted while she and Tomlinson oversaw the cookie-decorating table.

While volunteers built community among themselves and other Mary Washington students, another goal of the night was charity.  For a dollar, students could stuff bears, bunnies, or other animals and close them up with a heart inside.  This Build-A-Bear activity, a popular attraction in past years, benefitted The American Heart Association, according to senior volunteer Jane Claire Bishop.  A line of students that stretched all the way around the fourth floor of Lee Hall snaked through the assembly line of fur, fluff, and hearts, a small reminder of the good cause that they were donating to.

Next door, the spirit of competition was alive as 12 students at a time raced mechanical pigs in the hopes of winning a giant candy bar and a pig of their own.  Once released, the pigs crawled in different directions, and if one chanced to cross the finish line, its owner would be entered into a bracket to compete against other winners in a final race at 10:30.  Students waiting their turn would cheer on the pigs as they spun or bumped each other out of bounds.

The big win of the night, however, belonged to Evan Dean, a UMW student who won $200 in the high-energy trivia game Think Fast, hosted in the Underground.  Student teams answered pop culture and sports questions, and the four highest-scoring teams went head to head for the $200 prize.  Wildcard questions popped up throughout the game, including a competition for the best pickup line.  Responses ranged from clichés to “Girl, you are so fly, do you go to Mary Washington?”  With loudly enthusiastic participation of the students, Think Fast proved to be a heart-pounding, nail-biting experience.

Despite the threat of snow, Winter Carnival succeeded in drawing a large number of students to Lee Hall.  With the weather finally beginning to turn cold, the Winter Carnival provided plenty of warmth as students committed to charity or sweated it out in the heat of competition.