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Dr. Seuss, it seems, just can’t stay away from Winter Carnival. This will be the fourth time since 1981 that planners at the Collis Center for Student Engagement have honored his literary legacy. This year’s theme, “Seuss on the Loose,” is announced by a poster that shows Seuss’ Grinch suspended by ropes over a frozen Occom Pond.
Seuss-themed events, including film screenings and servings of green eggs and ham, offer plenty of less frigid ways to enjoy the weekend. “We like to feature a Seuss theme about every 15 years,” says Anna Hall, director of the Collis Center.
It’s a popular choice, giving poster designers the chance to re-imagine what Dr. Seuss, the pen name for Theodor Seuss Geisel, Class of ’25, might have drawn himself.
And if he were still alive, chances are that Geisel would make the trip to Hanover for what his biographer says was his favorite event in the Dartmouth social calendar. The Ted and Helen Geisel Third Century Professor in the Humanities, Donald Pease, says as a student Geisel would sometimes invite family members to help him celebrate the occasion. “And one year, the year he was a member of the Jack-O-Lantern staff full-time, 1923, his sister Marnie took the train to Dartmouth in order to join Ted and his fraternity brothers in a special celebration of Winter Carnival,” Pease says.
The Jack-O-Lantern, Dartmouth’s humor magazine, published Geisel’s drawings. But Winter Carnival also became an outlet for his visual satire, especially after, as an alumnus, he returned to judge snow sculptures.
“I believe in one of the years in which he returned he created his own sculpture, a remarkable creation,” says Pease. “So adopting the theme of the Grinch for this year’s celebration is in keeping with the long legacy of Dr. Seuss’s and Ted Geisel’s embrace of that ritual as the primary expression of their belonging to this place.”
The designer of this year’s poster, Anna Miller ’16, says she was thrilled to illustrate one of her favorite events, too. Winter Carnival begins on her 22nd birthday. Even after her poster is archived with all the others in the Rauner Special Collections Library, Miller will continue to keep Seuss’ legacy alive, reading his books to first-graders in local schools as part of her work-study job for the federal program America Reads.
The Grinch that dominates the 2016 poster has actually attended the carnival before. On the 1992 poster, he seems to be trying to steal Winter Carnival, as in the Seuss book he attempts to rob Christmas from the town of Whoville.
But as Pease notes in his biography, Theodor SEUSS Geisel, “even after the Grinch steals all of the Whos’ Christmas stuff, Christmas comes anyway.”
Winter Carnival has also made an annual arrival since 1910, even though this year, Grinch-like, the weather tried to steal it away.