With Dora the Explorer taking pictures, a gorilla running through a blow-up obstacle course and Dr. Seuss characters walking around, the 24th annual Purim Carnival was in full swing on Wednesday.
In honor of the Jewish holiday of the same name, for which those who celebrate traditionally dress up in a variety of costumes, Chabad, Alpha Epsilon Phi and Pi Lambda Phi organized and sponsored the carnival. Activities and attractions included a mechanical bull, as well as pie and hotdog eating contests, with music by bands including the Mainframe, Pike and Strange Appeal.
While members of the Chabad organizing team dressed in matching baseball T-shirts, other costumes ranged from construction builders and cowboys to men in tight dresses and a woman as a present, wrapped in wrapping paper.
According to Dyana Beretz, the Greek liaison at Chabad and a sophomore majoring in psychology, the carnival added new activities this year, including henna, face painting and a photo booth.
“This event started years ago as a small little carnival and it grew and grew to this unbelievable event,” Beretz said.
Tickets for the carnival cost $3, and over $3,000 of proceeds are going to the Coalition for the Homeless, an organization that gives supplies to local homeless shelters, according to Beretz. She said the reason they chose this organization was in response to the recent severe weather, making conditions even more difficult for those without regular shelter.
Rabbi Levi Slonim, the director of programming and development at Chabad, sported a hippie costume complete with a peace sign and headband with a long black wig. He said he saw this event as a chance to bring the whole community together to celebrate the holiday.
“You’ll see people here from all different religions, cultures, races and ethnic groups that are here to learn about the holiday and have a good time,” Slonim said. “The carnival has become a real staple here at Binghamton University.”
Jodie Kitain, a junior double-majoring in psychology and human development, agreed that the event brought the BU community together.
“I think it really shows what Binghamton is about,” Kitain said. “Bringing people together that might not normally be together.”
Beretz said she saw the carnival as a learning opportunity and a chance for people to just have fun.
“Anyone here can ask questions,” Beretz said. “It doesn’t matter what your background is or who you are. Everyone should be able to come together and celebrate this joyous, amazing holiday.”
The carnival was not just fun and games. Kia Zivari, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, said one of her favorite parts of the event focused on the more spiritual aspects. The night included a reading from the Megillah, a scroll that tells the story behind the holiday of Purim.
“It was a lot of fun, but I really liked going to the Megillah reading,” Zivari said. “I’ve never sat through one before, and it was really beautiful. But overall, I thought it was an amazing event because it’s great to see the Jewish community at Binghamton come together and dress up and just play games.”
A popular feature at the carnival was the unlimited hamantaschen cookies — Jewish pastries with different fillings, like chocolate or fruit jelly — that were given out with the entrance fee.
Beretz said she hopes people will take away not only a good time, but a feeling of community.
“I hope people have an amazing time and it’s all for a good cause,” Baretz said. “There are always bad things happening around the world but we need to stay strong and work together to make things work.”