Carnival booths exceed public expectations
This year, Carnival once again boasted the usual elaborately designed booths and, as a result, Midway showcased some of Carnegie Mellon’s most creative work. With booth designs ranging from a never-ending ice age to a world in which the Pittsburgh Pirates actually win games, the booths aptly reflected this year’s theme — “History With A Twist.”
In spite of some setbacks due to rain showers on Friday and cold weather all Saturday, Midway still attracted a throng of students, faculty, and other Pittsburghers. Judging took place on Friday, and the winners were announced at the awards ceremony on Saturday afternoon.
In the fraternity category, Phi Kappa Theta’s booth, “RoboRome,” took first place. The members of Phi Kappa Theta had clearly paid attention to detail while building the booth, as the entire exterior was covered in small, carefully placed mirrors. Phi Kappa Theta also earned the Chairman’s Choice Award.
Sigma Phi Epsilon’s “If The Y2K Happened” won the second prize for fraternities. With its life-size circuit boards and giant Gmail chat lists displaying the names of the fraternity members, this extremely Carnegie Mellon-esque booth dazzled viewers with its every aspect. The booth also sported a mock Facebook profile page that displayed visitors’ pictures where the profile picture usually appears. With something interesting on every wall, this Y2K booth was both witty and well designed.
Alpha Epsilon Pi’s “Pittsburgh Wins the World Series” won the third prize. This booth was a parody of the Pittsburgh Pirates, including a Hall of Fame for the Pirates with a golden cup and glove. The booth also included a spectacularly fun baseball game, complete with scoreboard and an enthusiastic digital audience. This theme was clearly a favorite with Pittsburghers and earned many laughs.
In the sorority category, Kappa Alpha Theta’s “Hanging Gardens of Babylon” earned first place. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this booth was the three-story-tall waterfall that spanned most of the exterior. The interior of the booth was filled with plants and beautifully constructed pillars, lending the booth a sense of mystery that made it extremely popular with the crowd. It won the People’s Choice Award.
Kappa Kappa Gamma’s “If the Ice Age Never Ended” won second place in the sorority category. The booth showcased pictures of everyday scenes and famous places modified to reflect a perpetual ice age, and it was a great display of innovation and wit. One of the most notable of these pictures was that of the Egyptian Sphinx, which the girls of Kappa Kappa Gamma made of ice instead of sand.
The third-place prize went to Alpha Chi Omega’s Agrabah-themed booth. The large golden domes of the booth made it extremely noticeable and helped attract a large crowd. Inside the booth was an Agrabah market, complete with fake swords, heaps of watermelon, fake fish, and other goods that made this booth a treat for all. As Rebecca Jacobs, an Alpha Chi Omega sister and sophomore psychology and Spanish major, put it, “[The theme of our booth] is something that both kids and adults can enjoy.”
Appealing to a large audience, the Taiwanese Student Association’s (TSA) booth won first place in the independent category. Called “An Adventure For Those Who Seek To Find A Way To Leave CMU Behind,” the booth had the public navigate its way through a Jumanji game board. Johnson Pun, a sophomore architecture major and Booth co-chair for TSA, said that the group likes doing “anything out of the ordinary,” and this led the members to choose their theme. The booth was certainly unique, with intricately designed statues within the booth and a host of enormous jungle animals and insects crawling up the exterior of the booth. TSA also won the Environmental Award, an award recognizing creative use of materials for building, use of environmentally friendly building materials, and the ease and safety of disposal of the booth.
The Asian Student Association (ASA) won second place in the independent category for “SuperBooth: Marvel Warfare!” A tribute to some of the all-time most popular superheroes, this booth was a chapter straight out of the comic books. The painting done in the booth was especially astounding and adhered well to the overall theme of the booth. Donald Chow, a sophomore architecture major and one of the booth chairs for ASA, said that the group wanted the booth to “appeal to little kids” and that was the “main focus” of the booth.
The third place in the independent category went to the Singapore Students Association’s booth based on George Orwell’s book 1984.
The final category of awards was for the blitz booths. The first prize went to the Archibooth, titled “…In a box.” The second prize went to Mudge House’s “Fishy Evolution,” and the third prize went to Stever House’s “John Wilkes Booth.”
Although it was not a competitive booth, a booth worth mentioning is the Entertainment Technology Center’s (ETC) “The ImininTech Project.” This was the first year that the ETC built a booth. Using up two booth spaces, “The ImininTech Project” attracted a large amount of people, with the line to the booth snaking almost all the way across Midway. This booth was far different from the conventional ones, as it was designed to be an interactive experience that had the public participating all the way through. Five to seven people were let inside “ImininTech” at a time and were guided through the “lab facility” by so-called members of the lab. What ensued was a lab accident that required the viewers to flee one room of the facility, enter another where bugs had to be killed by stomping on a touchscreen in the floor, and finally enter another chamber where the audience was “detoxified” by being shaken on a moving platform.
The entire concept of this booth, along with the electronics used, made it standout among all the other booths. Michael Campbell, a master’s student in the ETC and co-producer of the ImininTech project, explained that after the ETC showcased “Get In Line” during last year’s Carnival and received a favorable response, they decided to move on to something bigger. “[We thought,] why don’t we join in the fun and make a booth?” Campbell said. The team behind the project consisted of nine students and two faculty advisors. Campbell hoped that ETC would be able to continue this tradition and next year build something of a similar, if not better, caliber.
Although the final results were impressive, the initial process of building the booths was not without major obstacles. For Jacobs and her sorority, “building the domes and columns [of the Agrabah booth] was a major challenge.” For both Chow and Pun, the biggest difficulty was learning to cooperate as a group with such a large variety of people. As Pun said, “[It was a challenge] making sure that everyone was happy with the end result.” In the end, however, the groups managed to overcome these challenges and help make Carnival a success, as always.