Iowa State students get into the spirit during WinterFest

Students gather at the president’s house, known as the Knoll, for hot chocolate with President Steven Leath and First Lady Janet Leath during WinterFest on Dec. 5. 

Hot chocolate, Christmas carols and pattering horse hoofs donned the ISU campus for the celebration of WinterFest on Dec. 5 and 6.

The celebrations commenced with Carol of the Bells playing on the famous Edgar W. and Margaret MacDonald Stanton Memorial Carillon by Iowa State’s carillonneur Tin Shi Tam.

Khayree Fitten, sophomore in political science, was co-president of the event.

“WinterFest is a really unique tradition here at Iowa State…celebrating our campus in some different ways,” Fitten said.

The evening would consist of a variety of free events for students and the community members, including campanile tours, horse-drawn carriage rides or ice-skating out at the arena.

The most popular event of the evening was the campanile tour, sponsored by the Student Alumni Leadership Council. Tours began at 4 p.m. There were more than a dozen people in line before 3:45 p.m. The line stretched halfway to Curtis Hall for most of the evening and didn’t dissipate until 6 p.m., when the tour ended.

Iowa State’s First Lady Janet Leath held an open house at The Knoll, the president’s residence.

“We’re having fun,” Leath said. “I’m glad people are coming to visit.”

Every inch of the house was decorated in the traditional red, green and gold. The Christmas tree in the living room, where some students and the First Lady sat together to talk and her personal Snow Village, covering a 13-foot table, were the highlights of the household.

Leath said the decorating required about a week and a half of work. She said it took “a lot of hours and the students helped.”

Sarah Park, junior in interior design, had been to the Knoll before WinterFest and she said she had fun each time she attended.

“Each occasion [has been] absolutely wonderful,” Park said. “It is very welcoming, beautifully decorated…overall just a very enjoyable experience.”

She said her favorite part was the Knoll’s traditional, and delicious, drink — Mrs. Park’s famous hot chocolate.

Leath said she was proud that “we have continued that tradition of serving [it] at the Knoll for WinterFest.”

Two other WinterFest highlights included the tree-lighting ceremony on the steps of Beardshear Hall and the eighth annual Andy Albright Jingle Jog immediately following. At 5:15 p.m., Shy of a Dozen men’s ensemble led the group gathered at the steps in Christmas carols and merriment until 5:30 p.m., when the tree-lighting kicked off the jog around campus.

Fitten said WinterFest was a, “rare opportunity to get a relief from the studying that’s been going on before Dead Week.”

Other events for the evening included horse-drawn carriage rides around the Memorial Union and different group-hosted activities inside the union, including: Frisbee spin-art, a letter writing service project, cookie decorating, photo snow globes, an art sale, DIY holiday ornaments, bowling, billiards and bingo.

“I think it’s excellent,” Fitten said of the event. “We had a great turnout this evening [with a] lot of fun events happening with the entire community and we hope this is a tradition that will last for a long, long time.”