University Program Board hosts Mirthweek activities

by | Apr 27, 2020

The annual event transitioned to an online format, offering comedy, music and carnival-themed activities through the University Program Board's social media pages.

In lieu of the traditional carnival, 2020 Mirthweek activities took place online and featured video games, carnival-themed activities, a showing of Ken Jeong’s Netflix special and a spirit week. (Photo by August Jennewein)

At the University of Missouri–St. Louis, the end of April typically means carnival rides, comedy and live music as the UMSL community celebrates the end of the spring semester.

It’s all part of Mirthweek, an annual event that – as the name suggests – promotes happiness and cheer across campus. This year, precautions to contain the spread of COVID-19 made in-person activities impossible. But rather than cancel one of UMSL’s most beloved traditions, organizers devised alternative ways to continue the celebration.

A virtual carnival, comedy show and spirit week took place last week on the University Program Board’s social media pages.

“If anybody else is like me, we hit a point during the day where we’re ready to just mentally check out of our normal lives and do something fun,” said Jessica Mode, coordinator of student activities. “The activities during Mirthweek provided a little levity, a little piece of fun in your day.”

Throughout the week, students were encouraged to share photos of themselves wearing clothing that matched each day’s theme, like Toon-y Tuesday and Wacky Wednesday. Tuesday was also designated Pet Appreciation Day, and students posted photos of their furry friends on the UMSL UPB Instagram page.

Wednesday brought an online carnival, featuring virtual theme park rides and a petting zoo consisting of live footage of animals around the world. The UPB also shared tutorials for creating caricatures and stuffed animals. A YouTube playlist of upbeat, happy songs provided the Mirthweek soundtrack.

“The carnival is probably one of the most beloved traditions on our campus, so we were all a little bit sad that we couldn’t hold it in person,” Mode said. “But we tried to keep the spirit of the Mirthweek carnival.”

Thursday evening brought UMSL’s video gamers together as they played “Animal Crossing: New Horizons.” Participants were able to interact and have fun via Zoom despite being physically apart.

Mirthweek closed out on Friday with comedian Ken Jeong, who was originally scheduled for a live show at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center. The UPB still brought laughs by posting clips of the comedian’s jokes throughout the day, culminating in a showing of Jeong’s Netflix special “You Complete Me, Ho.” Participants streamed it on Netflix and shared their thoughts with other viewers via social media.

Mode credits students Felesha Clarke and Charles White for organizing Mirthweek’s online transition.

“When we realized we couldn’t have our 800-person event, we sat down as a team and brainstormed different fun activities that everyone would be interested in participating in online,” Mode said. “Felesha and Charles are the ones who actually figured out how to execute it. They did most of the logistical piece of figuring out all of the events.”

For Mode, providing students an outlet for relaxation has been as crucial this year as it was when Mirthweek began in the 1980s.

“Typically, we celebrate the end of a good semester,” she said. “Now more than ever, it’s important to celebrate what we do have, and that is our campus community. We have each other, and we’re all here to support each other through this hard time.”

Catch all the UPB activities by following them on Facebook or Instagram.

Karen Holman

Karen Holman