#Freezefest unraveled: The creation of an ice cold fest

A bartender at Redbrick uses a cash register during #freezefest. Photo by Carl Soder.

A bartender at Redbrick uses a cash register during #freezefest. Photo by Carl Soder.

January weather hit Ohio University like a ton of bricks. Snow, ice and wind created bone chilling conditions that turned any outside activity into a fight against a formidable icy tundra.  Students’ requests to cancel class proved ineffective, and the student body woefully donned multiple layers and braved the unforgiving cold.

However, on Monday, Jan. 27 at 12:40 p.m., their wish was granted. A National Weather Service windchill advisory and below freezing temperatures led OU to announce it would be closing its doors from 5 p.m. Jan. 27 to 5 a.m. Jan. 29.

As soon as the news was relayed to students through OU’s emergency notification system, students took to the internet to broadcast their glee.

Almost simultaneously, a race began to turn this “snow day” into a raucous fest in line with OU’s party culture.  Following the tradition of #fugitivefest, which occurred last year on Jan. 30, multiple hashtags appeared on Twitter attempting to assign a label to a celebration that would carry out over the next 24 hours.


Designating a name became a confusing endeavor. Fest hashtags were sent out so rapidly that the official rallying cry for event was left up to debate.


Eventually, the majority of the tweets centered in on #freezefest, and it has come up with the most frequency. It was also the hashtag that most university and law enforcement officials used to weigh in on the unfolding trend. 

Many uptown bars took notice of the business opportunity as soon as the announcement was made. Some opened up treating it as a regular business day, while others unveiled new drinks. Redbrick Tavern offered Icicle shots for $2.50. J Bar put their drinks with “frozen” titles on special, e.g. the Tropical Freeze and the Berry Blizzard.

“Usually we just have one bartender but we added two more for tonight,” said Dustin, a bartender at J Bar. “When school closes people definitely take advantage of it.”

One of the major winners of the first night of #freezefest was Courtside Pizza, which arranged a rave complete with two DJs, multiple backlights and specialty drinks. A sizable crowd packed into the bar to dance and line up for “Frostbites,” a drink the bar Tweeted out earlier in the evening.

While some students were willing to brave the cold and feverishly packed the bars, numerous others were vocal on boycotting the event, offering their opinions along with alternatives to a cold night uptown.

The night didn’t come without its fallouts. According to WOUB news, an arrest was made after a man attempted to force his way into The Crystal bar.  Minor skirmishes were also reported, but those outside mainly stayed in institutions for warmth.  Many set out on foot, but others set up their own transportation to rid the cold.

“I just think people have their own [plans] in place,” said sophomore Allison Rose, who attended the rave at Courtside. “I took a cab here. I’m obviously not gonna walk.”

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