Carnival 2021: A Spaced Out Carnival

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Josh Lee ’22 and Kainoa Paul ’22 wave to cars waiting in line for the drive-in movie. Photo Courtesy of Punahou School.

Due to COVID-19, carnival looked very different this year. From the online shop to the drive-up movie, our class had to be creative with what carnival would look like due to the strict restrictions in place. We were able to interview some students who were working behind the scenes to ensure that everyone had a stellar carnival experience. 

This year, Punahou implemented an online shop to order food and other goods like carnival wear. High demand goods like mango chutney could be bought online but in limited supply. Normally, people had to wait in line to get their hands on these commodities, but this year it was way more convenient since you could just add it to your cart and input your credit card information to buy it. Carnival was vastly different from previous years in which people were able to walk around and look at the items in person. To compensate for this, student booth chairs wrote blurbs for the site so that customers understood what was being sold. Food booths were able to sell frozen versions of the carnival food to customers so they could have the carnival experience in the safety of their own home.

The white elephant booth was also included within the online shop. This was fairly different from previous years where people could look at the items in person. This year, every item had to not only be sorted, but also logged onto the store. Although it required more work, the online store provided an easier experience for shoppers. The haku lei booth also needed to make drastic changes to sell their goods. Booth chair Helen Shanefield ‘22 said, “Instead of learning how to make the haku lei in person, we were sent an instructional video made by the lei makers so we could learn by ourselves.” Booth chairs also had to collect lei making materials at school. Volunteers faced some challenges when it came to communication and keeping up with any new changes. However, students were able to keep in touch throughout the process. Similar to the white elephant and food booths, haku lei were also sold on the online store. 

In addition to the online store, another aspect of carnival that had to undergo change was  the game booths. Unfortunately, it was not safe to set up games and allow the entire school to participate like usual. So, the games were split up by grade and cohort to minimize potential spread of the virus. For academy students, an online gaming tournament was created. Unlike the other booths, online games were not originally a part of our traditional carnival. Because of this, the entire booth had to be built from the ground up. Booth chair Chase Takamori ‘22 stated, “One of the largest struggles we faced was getting approval for all of our plans. We needed to run through every detail with either the Deans, Carnival Administration, or Punahou’s IT Department.” Because the booth was going to be run on Discord, a messaging and voice chat platform, IT had to approve of it being unblocked on student computers. With the booth being virtual, there was no way of incentivizing students to play by having the prize tent booth, so having students sign up was a big concern. Luckily, organization and coordination was not a big issue for this virtual booth. To participate in this booth, students would have signed up to play the space themed game, Among Us, on either January 23rd or 24th.

A new addition to this year’s carnival was a drive-in movie. The senior variety show as well as Disney’s WALL-E were shown on Rice Field. Due to this change, food booths were divided into two categories, drive-up and drive-through. The drive-up food booths served food at the movie while the drive-through booths provided frozen foods. Both were sold via the online store and pick up for the food were on either February 6th or 8th.

As drive-up booth chairs, we’ve personally had to work through a lot of changes especially since we were not able to meet often in person. Even simple conversations like booth names had to take place through emails or texts. The primary issue was that getting responses from everyone can be difficult with people being busy with online work. However, these online conversations were also beneficial since everyone could respond on their own time. Booth chairs also got the carnival experience and bonding through the traditional sign painting, allowing booth chairs to get closer while trying to navigate this new experience together.  

Carnival 2021 was really like no other before. When we interviewed her about this year’s carnival, Aunty Taryn from the PFA stated, “The class has had to reimagine every detail of carnival and create new processes for every booth. I’m impressed by the Class of 2022! They remained focused and overcame all challenges they faced.” Although the Class of 2022 did not get the traditional carnival experience, we were the first class to ever have a carnival like this. From the online shop to the drive up movie, there were so many adaptations for this year.  However, the Class of 2022 rose to the challenge and made this carnival truly out of this world.