Had the Homecoming carnival been anywhere but the Drake University campus, it might have been mistaken for a kid’s birthday party.
No, not a pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey birthday party with melted ice cream, one grumpy guest and store-bought cake, but the party with an envied guest list, an endless supply of cotton candy and inflatables creating a skyline rivaling that of Des Moines.
Students flocked to Helmick Commons last Wednesday in a quest for camaraderie, carnival treats, barbecue delicacies prepared by Sodexo and the promise of free stuff.
The carnival was planned by Drake’s Student Activities Board and was a welcoming break from the rigor of midterm exams for many, and students couldn’t help but stop by on the trek from afternoon class, guided by “Drake Homecoming: Where Dreams Come True” decorations.
“I saw all the inflatable stuff on my way back from class, and it looked like fun,” first-year Jessica Marx said as she waited in line for the bungee races attraction.
At this popular spot, students were strapped to bungee cords, fighting the resistance as they sprinted forward to attach a foam block from the inflatable, with many springing backwards in a fit of giggles just before reaching the target.
Laughter permeated the area, perhaps caused by the sight of fellow students who battled one another in sumo suits that clearly gave marshmallows a run for their money. Camera flashes were particularly prevalent at this attraction, and students who attempted to leap in their fighting gear for an action photo barely got off the ground.
Even more trivial than jumping in such cumbersome equipment was getting out of it, and several students sought the help of friends to escape the fluffy suits.
Aside from sumo wrestling and academic reprieve, students lined the outside of Olmsted in pursuit of carnival prizes that included snow cones, popcorn and cotton candy. The complimentary goodies lured sophomore Brian Simkus to the Homecoming carnival, as did the free cups and meeting new people.
The Homecoming carnival is an annual tradition for senior Anna Guth, who counted on a number of fun attractions for her final carnival at Drake.
“I come every year for the free food, to meet people and to take my pictures in the photo booth,” Guth said.
The line practically stretched down the stairs outside Olmsted, and students prepared their cheesiest grins and silliest expressions for the camera lens, creating memories and a comical keepsake.
A common fancy for college students, the free T-shirt is both a fashion statement and a way to deny the presence of one’s swelling laundry bag for another day. First-year Laura Zbinden tried her luck for a free T-shirt at Wednesday’s carnival, along with enjoying the “fun stuff, of course.”
For students who didn’t stand in line for a third helping of cotton candy, Sodexo provided a welcome change from the indoor atmosphere of Hubbell Dining Hall. It provided an outdoor picnic, complete with barbecue chicken and pork, hot dogs, brownies and even potato salad. Many students enjoyed a picnic on the lawn for a dining experience complemented by music and the warm fall air.