The Way Back: Pool Party

Beginning in the early 1940s, the Aqua Carnival was a campus sensation. Used to raise funds for the swim team, the annual event had diving contests, synchronized swimming, and a competition to crown the Aqua Carnival Queen. In the Jan 30. Austin American-Statesman of that year, a notice read that “only” 700 tickets would be sold, at $1.20 a pop.

It couldn’t last forever. There was a blurb in the February 1960 issue of the Alcalde about the tradition’s demise. “[The] Aqua Carnival, one of the largest shows on the campus, was dropped from the University scene,” it read. “The time and energy required were not in proportion to the meager attendance each year, it was said.”

In the 1970s, though, the Aqua Carnival briefly reappeared, with a twist. In the May 1974 issue of this magazine, a notice reads of the unveiling of “a new water creation—the blob, a 20-ton whale of bright orange.” Sound outlandish? It is. “Actually,” the piece concludes, “the blob was a huge air-filled float that challenged anyone to break the stay-on-and-bounce record of 42.3 seconds.” No word if the record was ever broken.

Above: “Fisherman” Jack Tolar and his “catch of the day,” Ann Tynan, according to the 1949 Cactus yearbook.


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