Summer’s heat or winter’s cold and no matter the weather or the conditions, Ohio State students continued the tradition of jumping into Mirror Lake late Tuesday night.
More than 1,500 people stood on the muddy hills and sidewalks surrounding Mirror Lake and observed about 100 students jump and splash in the chilly water before midnight. After midnight, more than 2,500 spectators watched the chaos and about 300 participants were in the water at a time in Mirror Lake.
Bethany Stephens, a first-year in marketing, jumped for the first time Tuesday.
“It was awesome,” Stephens said. “I jumped in five times.”
After midnight, air temperatures dropped from 57 degrees to 50 degrees. With winds between 19 mph and 30 mph, the conditions felt more like 43 degrees, according to weather.com.
Students screamed and cheered “O-H-I-O,” “Beat Michigan,” and many expletives expressing the feelings toward the state up north. Many students chimed in together and sang “We Don’t Give a Damn for the Whole State of Michigan” or started to do the “Buckeye Bounce,” a jumping cheer done in Ohio Stadium to the song “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes.
The Mirror Lake jump has been an annual tradition since 1990 and occurs the week of the OSU-Michigan football game. In years past, the jump was held on the Thursday before the Michigan game. Last year and this year, however, as the football game is the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, and students jumped on Tuesday instead of Thursday.
The jump into Mirror Lake is not sponsored and strongly discouraged by the university every year. Despite a warning email from Vice President for Student Life Javaune Adams-Gaston about the dangers of jumping into Mirror Lake, students still showed Buckeye pride by jumping into the cold water just southwest of the Oval.
On the east side of the Lake, h2o Christian Church on campus handed out free hot chocolate to those who jumped. Josh Bodner, a third year in electrical engineering, worked at the h2o Church table.
“We are handing out free hot chocolate,” Bodner said. “Just spreading the love.”
OSU Police were along the perimeter of Mirror Lake monitoring the crowd. Officer Chad Stanton said four people were arrested for disorderly conduct. University police also received one report of a broken ankle. Officer Stanton said he expected more arrests by the end of the night.
Ryan Horstman, a fourth-year in agribusiness, jumped into Mirror Lake all four years during his time at OSU. Horstman also said this year was better than last year.
“It never gets better. It is so awesome, I love doing it,” Horstman said. “Last year I ran back trying (not) to freeze my butt off. This year was awesome. I love Ohio State.”
Derric Dobbins, a third-year in business marketing, jumped his second time and noticed a difference between this year’s and last year’s jump.
“It was a little bit warmer, which made a lot more people come out,” Dobbins said. “Definitely more crowded and muddier cause it rained but it was a blast. It was fun and everyone came out and splashing each other, it was great.”
Nick Stallard, a fourth-year in political science, did not jump into Mirror Lake for health concerns, but watched for his second year in a row.
“I do appreciate and respect the tradition, but I’ve had mono, I’ve had Staph infections, and I really just can’t risk getting sick anymore,” Stallard said. “After a year of adversity and a year of problems and the ‘Tattoo-gate’ situation, I think it is incredible to see the student body come out here and support the team and supporting the school.”
Lauren Cates, a second-year in pre-nursing, also did not jump this year trying to build up the courage to jump her senior year.
“I think it’s great that we have this much spirit and we keep it up year after year and everybody comes out,” Cates said. “Everyone has a good time, even if you just stand out and watch.”
University police ended the Mirror Lake jump at 1:15 a.m. Wednesday.
OSU travels to Ann Arbor to play Michigan at noon on Saturday.