UB's own winter wonderland

The Spectrum

Behind South Lake Village's Community Building, Christina Zhen, a senior business major, and Marissa Lum, a senior biomedical sciences major, were sprinting back and forth as they carried jugs of water in the cold and dumped them in containers.

On the other side of the building, students with sticks in their hands yelled as they shoved and ran into each other they fought over the possession of a small ball.

These were just some of the sights seen at UB's Winterfest this past Saturday. Winterfest, the free annual celebration of the winter season, was held from noon to 4 p.m. in South Lake Village. Approximately 100 UB students participated in wintertime activities, which ranged from ice-skating to snowman building.

The winter festival dates back to 1948, when the event was titled "Winter Carnival" and held on South Campus, according to Thomas Tiberi, the director of Student Life and creator of Winterfest. It used to be sponsored by the defunct Sitzmarkers Ski Club and Schussmeisters Ski Club in the '50s and '60s, according to UB Reporter. Currently, it is sponsored by a variety of UB organizations: UB Athletics Department, Student Life, Campus Living, Environmental Health and Safety, the University Police Department and University Facilities.

Presently, the festival consists of Broomball, Polar Kick Ball, Ice Skating, Ice Bowling and The Amazing Race.

Many students enjoyed playing broomball, the main event of the festival. The sport is similar to hockey and students - wearing sneakers, padding and helmets - form teams of six and work together to shoot the ball into their opponent's net using brooms. Players needed to register prior to participating in a game, but unexpected guests enthusiastic about the game quickly created teams and were allowed to play pick-up games, Tiberi said.

Broomball is usually played on ice, but the weather conditions were not optimal enough to play on Lake LaSalle. The games went on as planned in a nearby parking lot. The weather also hampered other activities like ice bowling, igloo making and snowman building.

"If there's one thing I wish we could improve, I would say the unpredictability of the weather," Tiberi said. "We can't do certain activities without cold conditions. I made the decision to cancel ice-skating [the day before], although we still had hopes it would freeze up."

However, students still found ways to enjoy themselves. Zhen and Lum, first-time participants in Winterfest, loved the Amazing Race challenges. The Amazing Race is a series of challenges that gave students the opportunity to compete in different activities, including running water between two different jugs, a marshmallow toss using shovels, trivia on UB and Buffalo, tic-tac-toe, making a building with marshmallows and spaghetti and building snowmen.

Zhen and Lum thought the competition would require running and a lot of physical exertion, but they were surprised by how enjoyable the activities were.

"When we first came here, we had a whole different idea of what we thought it was going to be because Buffalo has had different versions of The Amazing Race ... but it was fun because each event was fun, but it was definitely competitive," Lum said.

International students like senior biomedical science major Marina Carelli and senior environmental engineering major Ariane Gabriel enjoyed the activities because of how rare such weather is in their home countries.

"[Carelli and I] are international students; we live in and are from Brazil," Gabriel said. "We don't have any snow in Brazil, so hearing about the activities sounded fun. I thought of little kids playing in the snow."

Winterfest was also welcoming to the students who weren't interested in the outdoor activities. The community building had board games, video game consoles, snacks and hot chocolate to complement the main events.

The organizations sponsoring Winterfest are looking to expand its audience and get a bigger turnout next, said Michael Lewis, the student activities associate of Student Life. Despite a few setbacks, Lewis thinks Winterfest is a successful event and would like to see it become integrated as a big part of UB's community.

"The best thing about Winterfest is seeing people enjoy themselves during the winter," Lewis said. "We would like to keep building the tradition and spreading word of it to UB students. We want to make it for UB students to enjoy."

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