Daniel Chi / Asst. photo editor
Students lined the shores of Mirror Lake Tuesday night, preparing to jump into the cold, shallow pond.
Solomon Jeong, a first-year in physics, said that the water was “very cold,” and he decided to jump on a whim.
“It was 9 p.m. and I just put on swim trunks and came down,” he said.
Jeong received a cut on his knee, but said that he would go back into the pond and things would pick up later.
“A lot more people will come,” Jeong said.
The crowd size peaked between 10,000 and 12,000, said Ohio State Police Deputy Chief Richard Morman.
The crowd size grew from a few pedestrians at 7:30 p.m. to the occasional jumper at about 8:30 p.m. to a committed crowd of jumpers by 9 p.m. Dozens of students jumped at 10 p.m., with more than 100 students in the water at midnight.
Students were encouraged not to jump in an email sent by the university Monday morning. “The combination of cold weather, alcohol, wet clothing and the slippery lake bottom can lead to lots of bad things,” vice president for Student Life Javaune Adams-Gaston wrote. “I promise that your Ohio State experience will not be diminished for missing this.”
Some students disagreed, including fourth-years Jeff Michael and Tyler Stauch, who paddled a canoe in Mirror Lake for a few minutes at about 8:30 p.m., before police ordered them to remove it.
“We’re all about Buckeye Nation and the tradition,” said Stauch, a business major, standing next to his canoe, which had a sail emblazoned with a Block ‘O’ and the word “tradition.”
“They explicitly said in their email that this isn’t an OSU tradition,” said Michael, an accounting major. “We wanted to make sure they knew this was a tradition.”
Adams-Gaston was at Mirror Lake for part of the jump.
“I think the point of the email is to remind students that this is a high-risk event,” she told The Lantern. “And why we’re all out here is to try to make it as safe as possible.”
“We’ve got a lot of senior-level Student Life staff, Public Safety staff, Facilities, them and police from several jurisdictions, that’s what helps with the safety.”
Representatives of University Police, Columbus Division of Police, officers from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Columbus Division of Fire and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources were at Mirror Lake.
“Tonight we’re here to keep everybody safe,” said Ryan Henak, a watercraft safety officer with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Henack and three other DNR officers suited up in drysuits, ready to rescue troubled jumpers from Mirror Lake, which Henak said is more than 12 feet deep in some points.
The deep end of Mirror Lake was cordoned off to discourage swimmers.
Police closed portions of Neil Avenue, 12th Avenue, College Road and 17th Avenue for the jump.
Morman said that arrests had occurred, but was not able to give a specific number or other information.
Temperatures dropped to 45 degrees by 1 a.m., with cloudy skies but no precipitation.