UB's annual Winterfest heats up North Campus with outdoor events

Chili in a bag, broomball and below freezing temperatures


It was four degrees below zero, but Lindsey Kehl was too busy playing broomball to notice.

Hundreds of people came out to enjoy the sixth annual Winterfest on Saturday from noon to 10 p.m. The smell of chili, hot chocolate and coffee filled the Student Union while people decorated cookies, heart-shaped picture frames, had caricatures of themselves drawn and played with balloon animals. Broomball and ice-skating took place in the ice rink across from the Student Union.

Kehl, a senior chemical engineering major, spent three hours playing broomball with her team until they lost in the semi-finals.

“I’ve never played broomball on ice before, but I had a blast,” Kehl said. “I couldn't stop laughing because people were falling left and right. I would definitely do it again.”

Winterfest was set up by Campus Living and Student Life and brought in about 400 students last year, according to Marnie Mancuso, a manager for the on-campus apartments and the co-chair for Winterfest. Mancuso said she hoped the attendance would increase this year because Winterfest fell on Valentine’s Day, but she was not able to say how much it increased by.

Mancuso said this year’s fest cost around $3,000, which was paid for by Campus Living and the mandatory student activity fee. The cost helped pay for the food, giveaways and entertainment. The event was free for all students to attend.

Among the many activities at Winterfest, broomball stood out as Kehl’s favorite.

Kehl’s six-person team was one of nine that participated in this year’s tournament.

She described the game as hockey with sneakers instead of skates and sticks that are supposed to look like brooms. Each game took about 20 minutes.

“Eventually, I really didn’t notice how cold it was because I was so into the game,” Kehl said.

The weather didn’t detract from the game. The chilling temperatures and snow made the ice less slippery.

After her team lost its fourth game, Kehl was ready to head indoors for some hot chili and refreshments.

Chili in a bag was hit at Winterfest. Students could choose from a bag of Doritos or Fritos chips, which were filled with either meat or vegetarian chili. Then they could add cheddar cheese or sour cream in the bag as a topping.

“People really like chili in a bag,” Mancuso said. “It’s like a craze.”

To go with the snacks, students could pick up complimentary coffee or hot chocolate to heat themselves up from the snowy weather.

Kehl said the chili was a close second to her enjoyment of playing broomball.

Pinkie Davis, a sophomore international relations and Spanish major, thought Winterfest was a nice place to relax and socialize.

“I think people can come to something like this, chill out, eat, meet people and talk,” Davis said. “I think stuff like this makes UB more of a community.”

Davis gave Winterfest a thumbs-up for not having any activities he didn’t enjoy.

Davis was one of many students waiting in the line for caricatures and Janice Spagnola’s balloon animals. Spagnola owns Air Sculpture Balloon Art, a company that makes houses, animals and even prom dresses out of balloons.

Davis, Kehl and other students thought the event was a great success, but Pruthvik Prakash, a graduate student majoring in electrical engineering and who volunteered at Winterfest, said Winterfest could be a lot stronger with more publicity.

“We need more publicity,” Prakash said. “We need to follow the people to obtain a crowd.”

Davis and others said they are likely to go to next year’s Winterfest.

Despite the negative temperatures, students embraced the weather and enjoyed a day of sports, crafts and snacks.

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