Booths provide students with ‘epic adventures’
Carnival at Carnegie Mellon is not just any other carnival — it’s the epitome of creativity, innovation, and excitement, made possible by the campus community. But one of the most important elements of Carnival that reflects the creativity of the campus is Booth. Every year, the members of fraternities, sororities, and a range of cultural, academic, and service organizations build and design booths according to a common theme.
Booth is not just a display of design and architectural expertise; it is also a competition. Organizations not participating in the main competition build blitz booths instead.
This year’s theme for Carnival was “Epic Adventures,” and Carnival-goers were overwhelmed by a sense of nostalgia when seeing the different booths, as many of them evoked recollections of some of everyone’s favorite childhood stories.
From the entrance, Delta Delta Delta’s “Jack and the Bean Stalk” booth was eye-catching and intriguing. The booth was complete with a little flower garden and sparkling green leaves that gave a welcoming feel. Although small, the castle at the top was glittery and fairytale-like, and the booth stayed to true to its purpose and was in the shape of a giant beanstalk. A walk through the inside really felt like an experience of the events of the tale, and the signs telling the story with their storybook-font cutouts on a life-size page really set this booth apart. The colorful decorations and designs were bound to be exciting for children.
In contrast, but still rather captivating, was Kappa Delta Rho’s booth titled “KDR Journeys to the Center of the Earth.” KDR’s booth took its visitors on an actual adventure down through the different layers of the earth’s surface. A passage through the booth was a mark of having survived a perilous feat.
One of the features of the booth that was quite amusing was an electronic walkway depicting a stream with pebbles that sensed the impact of feet stepping on it, and as a result produced ripples on its smooth surface. The environment was truly epic and the inner Earth-like feel was very realistic. Also fascinating was a large moving drill hanging from the ceiling, and the overall rush of accomplishment felt before exiting the booth.
Moving along on Midway led go Stever House’s Finding Nemo blitz booth. The Stever House community is dedicated to biologically and environmentally friendly practices, and a look inside their booth revealed that they held true to their mission. Even the shells of the tiny sea turtles on display were made by cutting out the ends of green plastic bottles. Laura Filliger, a first-year biological sciences major, explained how working on the booth for Stever House gave her and the team a chance to really get hands-on and work on a major project as first-year students. “[With other booths], a lot of the upperclassmen are doing the really important jobs, while with Stever you are a freshman and you are doing all the important jobs,” she said. The team put together a fun booth and gave visitors a chance to take pictures of their faces in Nemo and Dory cutouts.
Next up was Fringe’s “Fringe: Where the Wild Things Are” booth. Mike Niedzwiecki, a senior chemical engineering major, highlighted their choice of a timeless tale. “We’ve had a lot of people, three generations deep, come in and say ‘Oh, this was my favorite book as a kid,’ and it’s nice to see people’s faces light up,” he said. The detailed paintings of mysterious creatures and lights on the ceiling intended to give the effect of a twinkling sky, making visitors feel as if they were working through a life-size storybook.
Of course, epic adventures can also be portrayed as treasure hunts, and the “Sig Ep presents The Goonies” booth by Sigma Phi Epsilon did just this. What’s more is that the Goonies story is a parallel to SigEp’s story of creating it. Billy Snow, a sophomore architecture major, explained the situation. “[In the movie The Goonies], there is a group of kids completely different from each other, same as our house, who came together to accomplish their mission. In the end, we all came together to this one final design, which is an amazing feat because our house is so diverse,” he said. A look both inside and outside the booth showed the hard work of the entire team that had produced the final product.
On the other side was the Taiwanese Student Association’s “2043 AD” booth — a terrifying look into the future coupled with a caution for environmental conservation. A step into the TSA booth certainly felt like a step into the future. The organization was very accurate in creating props like mailboxes and a fire hydrant. Upon descending on the escalator-like stairs, an announcer with a robotic voice cautioned against environmental hazards and informed listeners of the time the next train was departing. Posters, subway signs, a model of a train compartment, and the overall subway feel were rather eerie and gripping. Very much in line with the theme was the save-the-world game situated at the end of the booth. The concept was meant to stand out as a unique epic adventure.
Also meant to stand out with its bright hot air balloon and cheery clouds was the “Around the World in 80 Days” booth next door by MayurSASA and the International Student Union. Paintings of monuments such as Paris’s Eiffel Tower, London’s Big Ben, the Egyptian Sphinx, and the Indian Taj Mahal, coupled with a rocking boat, made this booth attractive and fun. Also notable were the intricate models of Paris and Egypt. The most interesting part, as Yasaswi Raparla, a sophomore electrical and computer engineering major, pointed out, was the making of the hot air balloon. “The hot air balloon is actually made from the fabric used in commercial hot air balloons,” he said. The hot air balloon also made for an enjoyable photo backdrop for many visitors.
From the corner of the eye, it was easy to spot the dome-like structure that was Kappa Kappa Gamma’s “James and the KKGiant Peach.” The choice of story drew people of all ages to the booth, and the three-dimensional pictures of the story were a nice touch and were easy to follow. To top it off, this booth even smelled like peach. The dome was a testament to the team aim of straying from the standard rectangular booth design and using the structure to fit the story. The dome was geodesic — a spherical structure made up of a pattern of self-bracing triangles, which gives a maximum structural advantage. And for those who are still wondering: Yes, the dome was supposed to be a peach.
Overall, all the booths at Carnival were amusing to see, and the hard work put into making them made this year’s Carnival a major success and a memorable event.