For the second year in a row, Campus Activities helped celebrate Webster University homecoming weekend by holding a carnival behind the University Center. The carnival has replaced the traditional fall concert with a more family-friendly outdoor experience.
The carnival was the dream of former Gorlok Liz Eisley, who helped Campus Activities coordinate the first carnival last year as the organization’s graduate assistant. Program Manager Loren Douglass said Campus Activities had no doubts they wanted to repeat the carnival this year. “Last year got a great response,” Douglass said. “It’s a family-friendly event. A concert only attracts a certain audience.”
This year, Campus Activities was asked by Webster administration to move homecoming and the carnival up by a couple weeks to coincide with the inauguration of President Elizabeth Stroble. Webster students received a free wristband, which guests could purchase for $10, that allowed them to ride a Ferris wheel, the Scrambler and other traditional carnival rides, which lit up the evening in a blur of flashing neon lights.
Squeals of delight and fear came from people of all ages. Senior Dexter Earney rode each ride at least once, paying specific homage to one in particular more than 15 times. Earney’s favorite was the more daring, grown-up version of a Ferris wheel, which enclosed riders in egg-shaped cages that could be spun around, flipping the riders upside down as the ride rotated.
Students also received 10 tickets to play typical carnival games such as Tubs of Fun, which requires the player to toss two large yellow balls into a plastic tub to win. The only expense was food. Carnival-goers calmed their nerves with hot funnel cake, sugary cotton candy and sno-cones, which turned many tongues blue or purple. A stand in the center of the games enticed students to purchase junk food with large signs and delicious smells.
Senior audio major Matthias Muutuki said he considered the carnival a moderate success, particularly the umbrella ride. But Muutuki and senior biology major Angie Garcia said they weren’t sure a carnival was the best fall activity.
“I miss the concerts,” Garcia said. “It’s like added entertainment. It would be nice to get them back. Who doesn’t enjoy a good concert?”
Muutuki was unsure which form of entertainment would be better.
“It would depend on who was performing,” Muutuki said.
Andy Kohnen attended the carnival both years. The senior video production major said there was a clear difference in the atmosphere this year.
“I liked it a little better last year,” Kohnen said. “It felt more like a school event, with more student organizations helping out with things like games and prizes. This year, while still really fun, felt more like a carnival that just happened to be happening on campus.”
Kohnen said without a doubt the rides were better this year, and that Campus Activities should continue holding the Homecoming Carnival.
“(A carnival) is more appealing to more people,” Kohnen said. “Everybody likes carnivals.”
Adam Schneider, a sophomore speech communications studies and political science major, saw the carnival as a chance to bond with his three younger sisters. Schneider waited in lines with Dani, 12, Sami, 9, and Rachel, 7, who were thrilled to spend time with their brother.
Schneider said the carnival was a great chance for the Webster community to get their family involved, and to make memories.
“I liked riding the slower rides with my younger sisters and watching them win their prizes,” Schneider said. “They thought the rides were cool, but some of them were scary. They loved it.”