More than 100 first-years and their proctors stumbled into the Canaday courtyard at 8:45 a.m. yesterday in response to an car-piercing alarm.
The false alarm, accompanied by flashing white lights, sounded six more times before 4:00 p.m.
According to the proctors, there was no fire and no drills were scheduled.
The alarm surprised Amos C. Kenigsberg '99. "I didn't even know what was going on," recalled Kenigsberg. "I looked out of my window and asked "Why is everyone outside in their pajamas?"
"It took 15 minutes for people, half-naked in their bathrobes, to get out of the building at 9:00 a.m.," Matt R. Glathorn '99 said.
Canaday proctor Lisa M. Kelly said the false alarms were caused by an electric short.
Harvard University Police, the Cambridge Fire Department and Central Office would not comment on the incident yesterday.
Residents reacted differently to the early wake-up.
A handful of students said they slept through the alarm.
But Andres A. Rames '99 was upset by how early he had to get up. "It really disrupted my day," he said.
Kelly's husband, Tom Kelly, said he wasn't looking forward to any more surprise wake-up calls.
"If the problem persists the winter will be brutal," he said.
"Church bells, fire engines and now these alarms make Canaday a great place to live," Tom Kelly said.
"I count on Sundays to get what I have to get done," explained Jaclyn B. Ward '99, "I don't know how much I'm going to get done now."
A few students were more optimistic.
"I needed to get out of bed anyway," said Joshua Derman '99, "The alarms assured that I'd do my work."
Adam B. Stein '99 described the alarms as a "reason to buy a lap-top...and a good excuse not to do my paper."
"At nine and ten, it was kind of a surreal wake-up call, a bit of a bonding experience," he said.
Canaday residents said they waited outside for 15 minutes before fire trucks arrived.
The alarm was shut off at 9:15 a.m. and students returned to their rooms.
At 10:00 a.m., a second alarm forced students out again. Four alarms later, at 2 p.m. students said they had learned to live with the noise.
Tiffany R. Beechy '99 sat in the courtyard reading as the 2:45 p.m. alarm rang. Shawn R. Feeny '99 blue notebook in hand, wore earplugs. Others packed their books and headed to the libraries.
Peggy S. Chen and Dara Horn contributed to the reporting of this story.