For the past 100 years, the students of Carnegie Mellon University have celebrated the end of the spring semester by throwing a huge carnival for the children of Pittsburgh. Classes are canceled for two days and the students get a chance to relax before they dive back in for finals. However, for the brothers of Sigma Phi Epsilon preparation for carnival, and the Booth competition, starts months earlier. Building a two story tall themed fun house with working electricity, a fully functional videogame and features like a working waterfall is no easy task, especially on top of a CMU courseload, but it is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have while in college.
So what exactly is a booth? Think of your favorite story, TV show, movie, or comic as a kid. Now imagine being able to actually walk through that world, see all of your favorite characters, visit your favorite locals and maybe even get the chance to become part of the action. That’s what booth offers, a one of a kind experience where organizations on campus build a bunch of two story worlds based around a central theme. The result is reminiscent of a Disney attraction that causes everyone who enters to feel like a kid again.
SigEp has been one of the most successful fraternities of all time in the booth competition (we are tied for both most wins and longest winning streak with organizations that are no longer on campus). We consider the strength of our booths to be a sign of the strength of our brotherhood. The week leading up to carnival is particularly grueling. After “moveon”, when we physically lift the two story structure onto a platform and cart it down to “midway” (the Morewood Gardens parking lot where carnival takes place), brothers work on booth 24/7 to make sure it is ready to open on time. During the last 24 hours a massive push brings everything together and you stand back in awe at what you’ve been able to accomplish as an organization.
Of course this would not be possible without the vast array of talents brothers bring to the table. Whatever skill you are interested in learning there is an older brother who can walk you through the basics and then give you full control over your own special segment of the booth. Whether it’s measuring and cutting wood with awesome power tools, learning to mold life size characters, learning to paint or wire a building, there is something you never thought you’d have a chance to do when building booth.
Booth helps define the spring semester, who we are as SigEps, and who we are as Carnegie Mellon Students. Even though SigEp outperforms almost every other organization, we do not allow ourselves to become complacent. We are constantly striving to best ourselves and wow the crowds that pass through our creations. Over the past 15 years we have come far, but it is only the start as we look to redefine the booth competition and lead the campus forward into the next 100 years of carnival.