It’s Winter Carnival time

HOUGHTON – Even with temperatures hovering around 0 degrees, Michigan Technological University students spent the night outside immersed in snow statue building. The traditional Winter Carnival All Nighter kicked off at 4 p.m. Wednesday and carried through the night until 8 a.m. today.

With this year’s theme, “Nostalgic Films from Childhood Days Come to Life in Frosty Ways,” as their inspiration, student and community groups mainly concentrated on bringing the warm and fuzzy to life with their decidedly cold construction material. Armed with irons, scaffolding and shovels, they began building the statues which will be judged today. Not every group, however, focused on cartoons.

“We are doing ‘Jurassic Park’ as a theme,” said Cadet Captain Frank J. BeFay, a statue building co-chair for the Michigan Tech ROTC. ” Last year we kind of had an idea of – no matter what we’re going to do – we wanted to integrate dinosaurs into the theme.

There’s no real reason for it, we just wanted to do something different. Nostalgic childhood movies actually applied really well to that. So we had that going for us, we didn’t really have to fight to wedge our way into the theme.”

While many groups focused on building structures that soar above ground level, requiring scaffolding to reach the higher points, the ROTC went a slightly different route.

“We went a little bit against tradition. We did way fewer forms than what we usually do,” BeFay said.

“For the whole of the dinosaur we slushed it – it’s primarily all by hand.”

Slushing, BeFay explained, requires saturating snow with water to create a slush from which to build statue components – or entire statues.

“Slushing is a process by which you take snow and you hose it down until it’s saturated. You can use different levels of saturation for different things – if it’s really hard packed you can force it into crevices and make a smooth surface,” BeFay said. “What we did most of the time was fill it so full of water that the snow was the only thing keeping it from being a puddle. When you pack it together the water isn’t really trapped, it’s just forced into the snow and it ends up freezing rock hard.”

The ROTC was not the only group to use a slushing technique. Most statue building teams bring out the hose for at least a few details of their statues.

“A lot of people use slush primarily for minute details and things like that. I figured out last year when we slushed a few things free form that when you use slush as a catalyst to make ice you get a really solid structure that, at the end, there’s really no snow in it,” BeFay said. “When you want to put a lot of load-bearing structures into the statue, ice is really the way to go because snow doesn’t really grip to itself and it just falls apart.”

Winter Carnival events continue through Saturday evening. For a full schedule of events visit