Third Year for Winter Carnival

Trent Ernst, Editor
For the third year in a row, Tumbler Ridge is playing host to a winter carnival. 
Unlike last year’s winter carnival, built around the theme of Mardi Gras, this year’s will be built around the idea of the ‘ball masque’: the Masquerade Ball. 
“It’s not a ball,” says Erin Hanna, one of the members of the planning committee. “It’s a gala. A Masquerade Gala.  And the reason we’re calling it a gala instead of a ball is the graphic I used for the poster has the word Gala embedded in it.”
Hanna says that they are strongly encouraging people to dress in formal wear and a proper mask. She says the hope is not to have people showing up in Halloween costume, but to keep it truer to the spirit of what a masquerade is. 
What is a masquerade? They find their source in the 1400s, and were a feature of Carnival season, says Wikipedia. The original masquerades were modeled on the “Royal Entry”, which were the celebrations held with a king or ruler entered into a city. As time went on, these had more lavish displays of pageantry. Masquerade balls were extended into costumed public festivities in Italy during the 16th century Renaissance. They were generally elaborate dances held for members of the upper classes, and were particularly popular in Venice. They have been associated with the tradition of the Venetian Carnival. With the fall of the Venetian Republic at the end of the 18th century, the use and tradition of masks gradually began to decline, until they disappeared altogether. Since the late 1990s, the idea of masquerades has had a resurgence, though the emphasis these days is on the party and less on the formal dancing. There will be dancing at this one, though not quite so formal. Hanna says the committee is bringing in a DJ from Dawson with “a wide variety of music.
“We are strongly encouraging people to dress in masquerade and formal wear. They will not be turned away if they don’t, it’s just that’s the theme,” says Hanna. She says the committee just doesn’t want to see a bunch of people showing up in Halloween costumes. 
“It’s fun to dress up. It’s a little more flavourful than just having a dance. It’s a pretty good fit, since we don’t get to have Mardi Gras or Carnival or things like that where we live.”
Hannah says the committee is changing the theme this year to keep things new and fresh. Next year, the theme will probably be different, says Hanna, “unless this year is a really big hit.” Hanna came up with last year’s idea of Mardi Gras, but this year’s theme was thought up by Doreen States. The actual Masquerade Gala will be held on January 26, and is the touchstone event for this year’s Winter Carnival, but it is not the only event. Joy Mckay, another member of the organizing committee says that this year, there are tonnes of other activities. Many of the events, like the craft fair, happened last year. “We’re not trying to be exactly the same, but we want people to get familiar with the winter carnival and all the activities we do,” says Mckay. “We’re going to try and take it out to the golf course this year. The Sunday events with the weenie roasts and the kid’s relay races, we’re going to have those out at the toboggan hill.” 
However, being out at the toboggan hill gives them freedom to do new things. Like a “Toboxxon Race”, where people will be decorating cardboard boxes and racing down the toboggan hill. “The waxy boxes go much faster than the regular cardboard boxes,” says McKay.
Hanna says that she expects the change in venue will draw people out. “With the success of the toboggan hill, there’s going to be people out there, even if they don’t know about the carnival.”
Also happening this year is the Lawn ice-sculpting contest. Last year, low snow and warm weather meant there was little snow on the lawns. This year, says Mckay, there’s plenty of snow for artists to work with.