WinterFest organizers work to overcome inclement weather

Emily Pagel

Last week, student organizations, faculty and residence hall houses bundled up and headed outside to show their school spirit for Northern Michigan University’s “Chilly Nights & Carnival Lights” WinterFest 2013.

WinterFest was held from Friday, Feb. 15 to Saturday, Feb. 24 across NMU’s campus, with some events being cancelled due to inclement weather.

University protocol states that if school is cancelled because of bad weather, then events held that day can be rescheduled, according to Jordan Paquet, special events coordinator.

Two of WinterFest’s largest events, the Airband Competition and Open Skate Night, were cancelled due to school closing. Although both events were rescheduled for later dates, there were mixed feelings across the university on how the situation should have been handled.

“Due to the two snow days we had (on Tuesday, Feb. 19 and Wednesday Feb.20), though, there has been a lot of mixed emotions among the students,” Paquet said. “Some felt we should have pushed through and did the events regardless, and others recognized just how nice it was that their teams didn’t have to leave the comfort of their dorm rooms during the blizzard.”

One of the events, The Human Sled Dog Races, were held on Saturday, Feb. 23 and were met with difficulties due to the snowstorm on Tuesday, Feb. 19 and Wednesday March 20 and subsequent snow days, according to Kendal Sanderson, chairman of the races.

“It’s usually held in the Payne/Halverson fields,” Sanderson said. “This year we had a little bit of a challenge because we didn’t have it plowed for the obstacle course, but we just held it in the courtyard since there was freshly powdered snow on the sidewalks.

“The powdery snow just added to it. It created such a barrier that we had so much height in the snow and since WinterFest didn’t take place during the week, it was less of a reminder to have the plows come up and clear the field.”

Races lasted around 20 minutes and besides issues with weather conditions, Sanderson said there was an increase in participants compared to previous years. The winners of this year’s Sled Dog Races were the On-Campus Apartments.

Other winners of the events were Alpha Sigma Phi for the Clue Competition, while “Zero to Hero” won the Broomball Competition. The Airband Competition was rescheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 26 and Open Skate Night will be rescheduled for April.

Paquet said the overall turnout of students was similar to prior years and that attendance wasn’t affected, by the unexpected weather  delays and schedule conflicts.

“I would say it was a success,” Paquet said. “Although there were some bumps in the road with the great U.P. winter weather, students still showed their spirit by participating in the events throughout the week.”

The Special Events Committee is always looking for new members to help plan events like WinterFest and Homecoming. They meet 7 p.m. Monday nights in the Back Room of the University Center. SEC encourages students to attend if they are interested in  joining. For more details about the Special Events Committee email [email protected]