The Student Activity Center at Winona State University was covered in orange as students gathered to celebrate their homecoming week by participating in a pumpkin carving contest on Oct. 18.
As most students had classes cancelled due to the University Improvement Day, Winona State’s homecoming committee added the pumpkin carving contest to this year’s homecoming celebrations in hopes of getting more students involved on their day off.
The event would also help to include students in homecoming activities that were not surrounded with alcohol, said Katelyn Bailey, homecoming committee member and senior at Winona State.
Because Winona State’s homecoming falls so close to Halloween, the theme for this year’s festivities is “Monster Mash,” and while keeping with the traditional homecoming activities, the pumpkin carving contest was newly added to the agenda.
“I think it’s awesome,” Shawn Farber, a sophomore at Winona State, said. “I wouldn’t have come if I didn’t.”
Upon arriving, students were asked to sign a participation and agreement waiver in case of any injuries, and then free to choose from the 135 pumpkins and various carving tools the homecoming committee had provided. If desired, students were able to bring their own tools to carve with; however, they were unable to use any that exceeded 3 inches.
Not knowing what to expect, Lauren Ostergaard, homecoming committee member and senior at Winona Sate said the event went great.
“People got here at 12:30 p.m. ready to go,” she said. “I think they wanted to pick out the best pumpkin to carve.”
Outlining the stage of Somsen Auditorium, the finished pumpkins were embellished with LED lights and used as decoration for the homecoming coronation later that evening. The homecoming committee will also be decorating the auditorium with spider webs and other Halloween décor.
The homecoming court will vote on their favorite pumpkin and the winner will be rewarded with a free “Monster Mash” homecoming t shirt, as well as a jack o’lantern filled with Halloween themed goodies. After the coronation, students were able to pick up their pumpkins and keep them as souvenirs for the holidays.
Because of its success, homecoming advisor Tracy Rahim said another pumpkin carving contest would hopefully be planned for future years depending on the time.