Booths bring headlines to life

This year’s Booth season, with strong first-time competitors, politically charged themes, and a couple of unfortunate accidents, was worthy of the theme “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!”. Booth-building heavyweights and beginners alike were grateful for the sunny weekend, which brought a heavy traffic of students and alumni.

Competitive booths are judged on many different criteria, including appearance, craftsmanship, adherence to the theme, appeal to age range, and artistic creativity, among others. The game inside each booth is judged along similar criteria. Additionally, the judges evaluate each booth at night to judge lighting, aesthetic appeal, and overall appearance.

Sigma Phi Epsilon took first place with its booth “SigEp’s Titanic Sails into the ’Burgh,” followed by Kappa Delta Rho’s “The East Meets the West” and Alpha Epsilon Pi’s “The Eagle Has Landed.” In the sorority category, it was Delta Gamma’s “Delta O’Gamma Discovers Magic at the End of the Rainbow” followed by Delta Delta Delta’s “Red Carpet Premiere” and then by Kappa Alpha Theta’s “Theta Discovers Egyptian Tomb: Excavation Begins,” the latter of which won the Alumni’s Choice award for best booth. In the independent category, the Taiwanese Student Association’s “Dinosaurs on the Loose” beat out the Asian Student Association’s “The Discovery of Atlantis,” with ALLIES’ “And Tango Makes Three” taking the win for Blitz Booth.

A few Booth teams took the phrase “blood, sweat, and tears” a little too seriously this weekend, leaving some students sporting battle wounds in their quest for the perfect booth.

On Saturday, Fifth-Year Scholar and communication design major Alicia Pompei was smacked in the head by a falling wall while working on Delta Gamma’s “End of the Rainbow” booth. The wall, which was waiting to be installed in the booth, blew over in the wind and made a gash on Pompei’s head that took four staples to close up. Pompei, who was told by doctors to rest for a few days, would have none of it.

“I wanted to be back on Midway that night, but the Delta Gamma sisters wouldn’t let me,” Pompei said. All the pain was gone and the staples were removed by the time Pompei and her sisters won the sorority competition on Saturday, she said.
Local media outlets WPXI and www.squirrelhill.com reported that another female student, whose name was not released, fell off a ladder while building a booth on Thursday afternoon. The student was immediately rushed to the hospital but did not have any serious injuries.

While Pittsburgh’s characteristic rain and gray skies gave way to a beautiful Carnival weekend, inclement weather still plagued some of the groups during Move-On the Friday before Carnival, when students carried their partially built booths to Midway for the first time. Due to rain, Sigma Tau Gamma, KDR, and Delta Gamma’s Move-On times were delayed for between two and six hours, giving those groups a late start.

“From 6 to 11 p.m., people were antsy from waiting [to get started], but the rest of the weekend compensated,” said Sig Tau member and sophomore chemical engineering major Greg Maclean.

A hallmark among the weekend’s booths was Sig Ep’s “Titanic,” which sailed into first place with Sig Ep Booth chair and junior ethics, history, and public policy major Carl Misitano at the helm. “Titanic” featured an iceberg made from donated Plexiglas, which the brothers cut into half-inch pieces that they glued together. If there were a prize for best photo op, “Titanic” would likely have won: Students and alumni alike waited in line to get couples’ pictures on the bow, recreating the “I’m flying” scene from the popular 1997 movie.

The booth’s interior featured a steering simulator and environmentally safe, coffee-based wood stain, which helped Sig Ep score a win with the chairman for having the most environmentally friendly booth. As is usually the case with the biggest booths that feature complicated games, however, some of the best games were not operational for large portions of the time due to technical difficulties.

Some groups were very creative with this year’s theme. Theta focused on the “read” aspect of the theme, highlighting the invention of papyrus and the discovery of the Rosetta Stone in its ancient Egyptian pyramid booth. In keeping with the reading and writing theme, visitors were allowed to do rubbings on the walls of the booth. On the other end of the spectrum, the Taiwanese Student Association made a booth full of papier-mache dinosaurs, which featured a two-story waterfall and plank bridge; the organization won the T-shirt award.

Despite initial setback due to rainy weather, KDR also built a strong entry, which highlighted the train and steam engine’s contribution to travel and commerce. The fraternity’s re-creation of a train and train station showed solid craftsmanship.

Entering the competitive booth-building arena for the first time was MayurSASA, Carnegie Mellon’s South Asian cultural group. According to member and sophomore business major Sagar Mehta, the group made the decision to build a competitive booth, skipping the blitz booth category entirely. The result was “Taj Mahal,” which featured a two-story dome, traditional artwork, and complimentary peacock feathers.

Also new to booth-building was Lambda Sigma Society, a sophomore honors organization. A blitz booth, Lambda Sigma’s hybrid booth-tent played off of the charged state of the current political climate by offering visitors the opportunity to register to vote.

Alumni and Carnegie Mellon faculty and staff turned out in large numbers to stroll through the booths and check out the rides. Recent graduate Eric Wright, H&SS ’07, made sure to take his time on Midway.

“It really reminds me of my time here as an undergrad. It’s nice to visit the booths, seeing many faces I remember. And the weather doesn’t hurt,” he said.