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Winter Carnival brings engagement to mid-February slump on campus

During the week of Feb. 10-14, various University of Maine groups and organizations got together to hold the annual Winter Carnival. With ice sculptures, reindeer, hot cocoa, a bonfire, sledding and much more, the carnival brought hundreds of UMaine students out to celebrate winter and helping to spread warmth during the snowy months.

Monday’s events, occurring from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., kicked off the Carnival. Monday hosted Fresh Check Day, which took place inside the Memorial Union, and a snow sculpture contest on the Mall. 

“Winter Carnival is an amazing tradition on the University of Maine campus. The Center for Student Involvement put together a committee of students, staff and campus partners to represent different areas of expertise to ensure there was something for everyone to enjoy and participate in,” Jennifer Desmond, coordinator for leadership development at the Center for Student Involvement, said. “When looking at the calendar for the spring semester, we felt strongly that we wanted to collaborate with the Mind Spa and combine with Fresh Check Day, a national program that provides an uplifting mental health fair. February can be a long month for students on campus, and we wanted to keep student needs at the forefront of our planning.” 

One highlight of the week was the reindeer petting zoo. Students had the opportunity to take pictures and pet reindeer that were grazing in the snow on the Mall. Lines of students gathered around waiting for their turn to pet and see the animals. Winter Carnival week also included a Trivia and Casino Night, Valentine’s Happy Hour, Crockpot Challenge (with free samples), Free Money Game Show and improv performance.

“In addition to getting involved on campus, leadership opportunities are an essential component in a student’s development. I’m so impressed with the student’s involved in planning Winter Carnival, whether that be Trivia hosted by the Senior Class Council and [UMaine Student Government], Casino Night with [Campus Activity Board] (CAB) and [Interfraternity Council] (IFC) and Panhel[lenic Council], snow sledding with [the] Residence Hall Association or a show hosted by Improv Insanity,” Desmond said. “ These groups have demonstrated the great community we have at UMaine, and I’m thankful for their commitment and leadership in helping other students connect with and find resources.” 

On Tuesday, Feb. 11, the school organized a blood drive from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Collins Center for the Arts. Students could sign up to donate blood and learn about other volunteer opportunities to help families and people in need. On Thursday, students participated in the Winter Olympics and a bonfire, from 3-5 p.m. on the Mall, and in Casino Night, which was held in the North Pod of the Memorial Union from 8-10 p.m.

“I was looking forward to Casino Night, sponsored by the Campus Activities Board.  These students have been planning for this event since they attended the National Association for Campus Activities Conference in November,” Graduate Assistant for Campus Activities Mackenzie Bumpus said. “This event is another example of collaboration on campus as the Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Council have partnered to help put on Casino Night. Casino Night is entirely student-driven with students from CAB and IFC and Panhel[lenic Council] collaborating to host an awesome and engaging event for their peers.”

Next year the Center for Student Involvement hopes to have similar-style events and use the help and input of students on campus to continue creating unique activities. The Winter Carnival events were designed to help heal the winter blues and get students traveling to different spots on campus throughout the week to engage with peers and faculty.

“I believe becoming engaged on campus is directly related to student success.  With some new programming initiatives we have implemented on campus, such as Late Night at the U, it provides students with a safe and welcoming space to engage with their peers,” Bumpus said. “Our programs vary so that we can support as many areas of interest as possible.  I loved working with the Winter Carnival committee because of the diverse ideas that can be shared in order to provide the best experience possible for our students.”  

The Center for Student Involvement is located in Room 145 of the Memorial Union. If you are interested in planning events on campus and getting involved, you can reach out to


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