500 Defy Storm, Revel By The River
Police: 'Go Home'
All over the rest of the state yesterday, people were staying indoors or fleeing.
But along the Charles River, about 500 Harvard students were basking in the wild wind and driving rain and having a party.
"I've never been in a natural disaster before. I just thought I'd come out here and see what it's like," said John K. Freeman '88 of Adams House.
Joining forces, Metropolitan and campus police spent most of the afternoon attempting to break up a celebration on the Weeks Foot Bridge.
"You folks are our future leaders? I can't believe you go to Harvard," an incredulous patrolman Gregory Gilford of the Metropolitan District Commission (M.D.C.) said over his cruiser's loudspeaker.
"Clear the bridge before you're thrown off--and I'm not going in after you," Gilford ordered, but dozens lingered. "Tell them to go home and make love," Gilford told a reporter before getting out of his car to chase away the stubborn.
Earlier, police resorted to a rolling wall of cruisers to disperse a group of about 100 students cheering the dramatic demise of a tree.
The scene stood in surreal contrast to city's desolate streets. Traffic on Storrow Drive and Memorial Drive was reduced to a trickle.
By 3:30 p.m., most of the students had left the shore. Until then, it was a carnival.
A woman who declined to give her name straddled the Weeks Fool Bridge's cement guard rail. "I like the wind," she explained.
Thirty feet below, the wind drove two-foot whitecaps upstream, and the surf crashed against the base of the bridge.
Paul J. Gaffney '88 of Quincy House cast a tattered umbrella to the wind while a crowd of onlookers cheered. A loud crack pierced the air as a tree succumbed to the elements in front of the Business School.
"A storm on a Friday afternoon and no classes--it's just a good change of pace," said Michael K. Davis '86 of Quincy House, interrupting sips of Busch beer.
Further upstream, five men identified only as Eliot House residents plunged into the breakers for a swim. Metro police persuaded them to towel off.
Less conspicuously, Michael J. Schwartz '87 of Eliot House and an unidentified friend waded into the water in a failed attempt to reach the Weld Boathouse docks by sea.
Posing as Benjamin Franklin, Vincent W. Chiang '88, also of Eliot House, decided to go fly a kite. "I liberated it from a tree, and now I'm trying to set it free again," Chiang said.
Impersonating Crimson cheerleaders, a beer-drenched crowd of Kirkland men took up a chant and acrobatically spelled out "G-L-O-R-I-A."
Some of the riverside antics were less self-explanatory. Six men reached toward the sky, spreading their coats wide. "We're holding up our jackets to get higher wind resistance to lean into the wind," said Randall H. Wilson '87 of Adams House.
Most of the rivergoers safely withstood the heavily hyped hurricane, but at least one injury was reported. Karen Spinks of Mott St., Boston, broke a leg when she slipped and fell, M.D.C. officer Bradford A. Waite said.
Jonathan M. Moses and Ari Z. Posner contributed to the reporting of this article.