New Trier hosts 25th winter carnival

Senior class brings community together to raise money for Habitat

On Mar. 15, New Trier hosted its 25th annual winter carnival at the traditional campus from 5:30-9 p.m. The carnival is one of the most popular events in the community.
Senior adviser rooms hosted more than 45 booths, according to senior adviser co-chair Chris Pearson. Popular activities included the 3-point basketball shootout, Mario Kart competition, and whiffle ball home run derby. This year, the school had a contract with Record-A-Hit Entertainment to bring in new activities such as bumper cars, inflatables, and Putt Putt Golf.
“It was a way for the senior class to create something fun for the community,” said retired senior adviser chair Tom Tebbe, who was around for the first winter carnival. “They’re able to do service-oriented types of work, giving back but also a chance for them to think about what they’re going to do with the funds they raise,” said Tebbe.
To raise funds, senior adviseries have to ask local businesses for donations, along with making posters and other promotions for their booths, providing an opportunity to practice marketing and entrepreneurship skills.
The inaugural carnival was in 1996, conducted by former adviser chairs Larry Rehage and Janice Dreis. The inspiration for the carnival came from the lab school at the University of Chicago, which hosted yearly carnivals. Though this year marked the 25th anniversary of the winter carnival, not a whole lot has changed.
“The basic format is the same, though it has become more streamlined over the years,” said Tebbe. “It used to be from 6 to 10 p.m., before Spring Break usually. There is a lot of the same advertising, trying to get the same sponsors to support it, either through some direct contribution to the winter carnival such as donating pizza or other food items, or indirectly through the auction.”
Another part that has stayed the same throughout the years is the carnival’s popularity among the locals. Hundreds of kids enjoy the dozens of activities, games, and raffles that are set up by the Senior class each year. Many seniors who run stations at the carnival also attended the carnival as kids, making it a memorable event.
“It struck me seeing seniors interacting with the young kids,” Tebbe said. “It’s nice seeing them put down their phones and stepping out of their usual practices of interacting with one another. They focus on making sure the kids have a good time and do a good job taking care of them and having a good flow of activities to participate in,” said Tebbe.
For the first six years of the carnival, the Senior Senate would select a charity to receive the carnival funds. Often the money would go to children’s cancer foundations such as Bear Necessities. But in 2000, the senior class decided to partner with Habitat for Humanity to raise money for families in need and fulfill their service project requirement.
With free admission and parking, along with $1 tickets for different activities, the carnival has used the funds raised for Habitat for Humanity to help build residences in Waukegan and the Philippines. The school’s press release said that they have helped build 38 homes over 19 years. Senior advisories pick a day for their service project, which typically is a field trip to build part of one of these houses.
“The carnival is a nice event for the community. Everyone comes in expecting to have a decent time. The biggest challenge is probably keeping everyone occupied. There were never any [major controversies]. That’s a testament to the seniors,” said Tebbe.