Thurtene tradition continues in new location

Theater, dance, carnival rides and music are just a few of the attractions that will be featured at the annual Thurtene Carnival, scheduled for 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 18 and 19, on the Danforth Campus.

Student groups work night and day during the week before Thurtene Carnival to create the famous facades, like this one from sorority Alpha Epsilon Phi and fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi in 2007.

This year’s carnival, “Timeless Traditions, Endless Adventures,” will be held on Brookings Drive’s grassy median in front of Brookings Hall due to construction on the northeast corner of the Danforth Campus.

This is not the first time the carnival has relocated to accommodate changes on the campus. Originally held on Francis Field in 1907, the carnival has been held in the Field House, the parking lots south of the tennis courts and the parking lot in front of Brookings Hall before moving to its current location.

Although the move from a concrete surface to a grass one has required more adaptations to the carnival’s layout than previous relocations, logistical aid from the University has helped the Thurtene Honorary overcome many of the associated challenges.

The oldest and largest student-run carnival in the nation, Thurtene is presented by members of Thurtene Junior Honorary, 13 juniors who bear responsibility for the continuation of the tradition. More than 50 student organizations participate in the event.

The event this year is being sponsored by, a celebrity Web site launched by MSN in February. Proceeds from the carnival will benefit the Foundation for Children with Cancer, which helps families pay their mortgage, utility and car bills and more while struggling to afford cancer treatment. More than 100,000 people are expected to attend.

Admission is free, though tickets must be purchased for rides and some plays. Foods such as barbecue, pizza, candy and ice cream also will be available for purchase.

Thurtene will expand on past years’ efforts to remain environmentally friendly. This year’s campaign focuses on the recycling and reuse of leftover building materials, namely wood and paint.

This year, six sororities have paired with fraternities to build facades, themed buildings more than two stories tall. Each facade is designed and decorated according to Thurtene’s annual theme. Examples from the past include everything from a pirate ship to a wild west saloon to a mystery mansion to a gingerbread house. Each paired group puts on a play within its facade that is both child-friendly and entertaining to adult audiences.

Once again, Thurtene’s “Kids to the Carnival” initiative will provide buses so children from local schools and charities can attend.

The Black Repertory Theater Co. returns this year to present a play for children both days of the carnival. All shows are free and open to the public.

The first campus-wide spring carnival was held May 9, 1907. It evolved from a circus to a vaudeville show in its early years. Rides appeared in 1914 when a freshman-powered merry-go-round was featured.

In 1935, after a few years off and some festivals in other forms, a revival of the carnival by the Thurtene Junior Honorary evolved into what now is known as Thurtene Carnival.

The week preceding the carnival, called “Lot Week,” receives recognition from the State of Missouri through an official declaration from the governor as “Thurtene Carnival Week.” During this week, students work around the clock raising facades and practicing plays.

Following tradition, at the conclusion of the carnival, the Thurtene Junior Honorary will present the Buckley Award for best construction of a facade and awards for best production, best food and best game booth.

Also to be awarded are the prestigious Chancellor’s Charity Cup for the highest donation to charity and the coveted Burmeister Cup for best overall participation in the carnival.

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Carnival week to limit parking

Because of Thurtene Carnival’s move to Brookings Drive, several parking changes have taken place.

Approximately 200 spaces will be closed on the southeast corner of Lot 4 (by Whitaker Hall) through Monday, April 20. In addition to the lot closure, Brookings Drive (westbound) will be closed during this time period as well.

There will be no parking on eastbound Brookings Drive through April 20, but eastbound-only traffic will be allowed.

The Parking & Transportation Services Web site will be updated with parking information related to the Thurtene Carnival.

Visit for more information.