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Students bring costumes, competitive eating to 23rd annual Purim Carnival

Jewish holiday celebration features charity drive for Haiti disaster relief, Hurricane Sandy and local flood relief

The Events Center was filled Thursday evening with costume-clad students, gathered to celebrate the Jewish holiday Purim with food, colorful dress and games.

Kendall Loh/Photo Editor Students participate in the Purim Carnival Thursday night in the Events Center. The carnival was hosted for Purim, a Jewish holiday celebrating the survival of the Jewish people in ancient Persia.

The 23rd annual Purim Carnival featured a costume contest, Battle of the Bands, a mechanical bull and other rides and attractions. The night was co-sponsored by Chabad, Pi Lambda Phi and Alpha Epsilon Phi.

“It’s a huge holiday that’s a ton of fun, and there’s so many nice aspects of it,” said Lucy Schwartz, president of Chabad and a senior majoring in English.

Proceeds from the carnival have been given to causes such as Haiti disaster relief, Hurricane Sandy and local flood relief in years past.

“Every single year we have a charity drive, and we try to give to places that everyone can connect to, and this year we decided to go really local,” Schwartz said.

Just before winter break, the roof of the Hillel Academy of Broome County collapsed due to the heavy snowfall in the area, causing the loss of computers, books and other supplies. Half of this year’s Purim Carnival proceeds — made from the sale of raffle tickets and the $3 admission — are going to replenish their supplies. The other half is going to the Vestal Special Education School.

One of the main attractions, Battle of the Bands, featured local student bands such as JSLJ and Strange Appeal.

“We played here last year, and it was a lot of fun,” said Luciano Massa, a member of JSLJ and a junior majoring in psychology. “Playing last year was incredible. A lot of people just having a good time, and the carnival scene is really cool. Everyone running around doing their thing, but with music in the background.”

Carnival-goers enjoyed hamantaschen cookies — a traditional Purim pastry — as well as hot dogs, falafel, knishes and Israeli salad. For the more ambitious eaters, a pie eating and a hot dog eating contest gave the evening a more competitive edge.

“I just love how everybody goes all out for it, and everybody just loves being together and celebrating Purim together,” said Sara Rubin, a sophomore majoring in philosophy, politics and law.

Members of the organizations who co-sponsored the event served as volunteers to keep the carnival running smoothly throughout the night.

“The reason the frats and sororities get involved is they really have a presence on our campus,” Schwartz said. “And it brings a lot of people together and it’s not only Greek life but the entire community.”