ThurtenE offers whirlwind of fun, despite rain and tornado warning
Not even a tornado warning could stop ThurtenE.
Despite almost constant rain and high-speed winds, people from the Washington University and St. Louis communities did not hesitate to come out to Brookings Drive for this year’s carnival.
The carnival, which is in its 75th year and is run by ThurtenE, a junior honorary, bore a “Choose Your Own Adventure” theme. To conform to this theme, a handful of fraternities and sororities paired up to construct façades. The façades included a Mayan temple, constructed by Sigma Nu (SigNu) fraternity and Delta Gamma (DG) sorority, and a baseball stadium, constructed by Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) fraternity and Alpha Epsilon Phi (AEPhi) sorority, among other designs.
“The inspiration, that’s the theme of the whole carnival, the inspiration being that this carnival is so many different things to so many people,” ThurtenE Honorary President Adrian Githuku said. “It has a different meaning for the Wash. U. community than it does for people who come from St. Louis than it does for people who are alums who come back. It has a lot of different meanings to a lot of different people.”
Additionally, other student groups joined the effort through food sales. Ashoka, a South Asian student group, sold Indian snacks like samosas and mango lassis. Delta Sigma Pi (DSP), one of the University’s business fraternities, offered funnel cakes. Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT) fraternity ran a grill and frying station. ZBT’s station offered customers a range of fried items, including fried ice cream sandwiches.
At a little past 4 p.m. on Saturday, the ThurtenE lot was evacuated because of a tornado warning issued by the National Weather Service. Officers from the St. Louis Police Department (SLPD) interrupted shows taking place in the façades, and students running booths were told to leave everything and vacate the lot.
“We didn’t get to clean up all the way, so we had to leave hot pans of oil just sitting out, but nothing got lost, thankfully,” said senior Taylor Kayse, a member of DSP.
Despite the heavy rains and powerful winds, very little damage was done to the façades.
“I think our façade held up very well because of all the great work that went into assembling this thing,” Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity (SigEp) member and junior Teddy White said. “It can withstand all that Mother Nature has to throw at it.”
Githuku responded similarly, citing the strength of the structures built by the fraternities and sororities.
“It’s kind of miraculous how little damage there was,” he said. “It’s really a testament to these groups as far as the structural integrity of the buildings because the structural damage was very little, if any. There was minimal water damage, which is what we were scared of. Very few roofs leaked and floors were intact. Most of the damage was aesthetic and was small.”
Students involved in the construction of the façades were told to come early to the lot on Sunday in order to make any necessary repairs.
“The damage wasn’t really bad,” graduate student and member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity (Beta) Doug Horn said. “We had some pipes that were knocked around.”
Horn noted that some items were missing following the storm.
“We were shooting electricity into our fraternity letters with what we called Van de Graaff generators, and last night we got an e-mail from our overalls asking us to come to the lot to fix things,” he said. “The first thing was fixing the tarp. The second thing was finding the Van de Graaff generators. Not fix them, but find them, because we [had] no idea where they went. We found one, and the other one might be in a parking lot somewhere.”
Many students were concerned that the storm and evacuation of the lot would cause a decline in revenue for charity.
“Sales have been pretty good,” Kayse said of the DSP funnel cake booth. “They’ve been hurt a little, obviously. We had to pack up really early with the tornado yesterday. Other than that, we’ve already made back all the money we spent, and we’re working on profits.”
The weather did hurt the ZBT food booth’s profits, however.
“Profits have not been so good,” said Dylan Tucker, a member of ZBT. “The tornado kind of ruined that. It’s been a rough year, but it’s been fun. I’ve had a good time, but the rain has put a damper on things.”
Ashoka’s tent was destroyed as a result of the winds.
“[The tent] completely collapsed, and we tried putting it back together [Sunday], but the joints weren’t stable,” Ashoka member Suzanne Mazhuvanchery said. “Basically everything broke. So because of the weather, we couldn’t sell anything using our booth.”
However, Ashoka was still able to sell items on Sunday as a result of Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity’s (SAM) willingness to let Ashoka share their tent.
Despite the weather, visitors to the lot seemed excited to take part in the annual tradition.
“I think the weather has not deterred people from coming to this glorious event,” White said. “The turnout has been good. Everyone’s excited to come out to see the shows.”
ThurtenE Honorary saw the evacuation as a prime display of students’ dedication to ThurtenE Carnival.
“The fact we can have a tornado warning, clear out halfway through the carnival and then come back and set up the next day is a testament to Wash. U. students and a testament to the community coming out to support us,” Githuku said. “The Wash. U. community is a resilient community, and it showed today.”
Puneet Kollipara contributed to this report.