The torches were lit, the band struck up a mighty tune, the wind howled and freezing flesh flew across the Yard. It started like any other Primal Scream, but a man-made ice slick near Matthews Hall made Monday night's festivities treacherous for many runners.
Approximately 100 students braved air temperatures close to zero and a wind chill estimated at around 30 to 40 degrees below to strut their stuff through the Yard. Several hundred more students and staff crowded the Yard to catch a peek of the gutsy exhibitionists.
As if the wind weren't enough, scantily clad students had to worry about slippery spots on the pavement, both natural and artificial.
In addition to the patches of icy snow left over from last week's storm, some students poured water on the path where it curved around Matthews Hall.
"While it wasn't all me, I did come up with the idea," said Nate S. Towery '03, who masterminded the plot. "I think up to 20 people--most were upperclassmen--got involved." Students walking by were intrigued by the plan, Towery said, and offered to help.
The streakers reacted to the booby-trapped corner with varying degrees of annoyance and nonchalance.
"It was really fun, except when I busted my ass so some crazy and depraved people could watch us hurt ourselves," Margaret C. Anadu '03 said. "I'm a little ticked about it but since it was such a wonderful night I don't want to focus on the negative."
Not surprisingly, many runners took a tumble on that strategic corner, and some spills were more serious than others.
One streaker was spared a painful injury by his own imaginative costume.
"I was wearing a cape and bicycle helmet to be different....I fell back on my head, the helmet saved my life, I fell really hard," Nick J. Britell '03 said. "I have some bruises, but it's not a big deal. I had so much fun it didn't really matter."
Towery said he felt his practical joke was successful. "I don't think its funny to see people get hurt, but the overall effect was funny," Towery said.
In addition to the water balloons and ice slick, this year's runners sported a variety of interesting costumes and paraphernalia, including capes, hats and bow-ties.
One masked man carried a sign saying "This is not shrinkage," in an allusion to the infamous Seinfeld episode concerning the effect of cold weather on male genitalia.
But not all of Monday night's activities were confined to the frigid night air, as a group of students from the Dudley House Co-op began things early in Lamont, stripping down to their undergarments about an hour and a half before others streaked in the yard.
The "Lingerie Study Break" is a long standing tradition in which several Co-op residents stand up from their books from time to time, remove an article of clothing, walk around the library, then sit back down and repeat the process until they are wearing nothing but their lingerie or boxers.
"We go to Lamont and basically strip down. I had lingerie and a wig- anything inappropriate would do," said Co-op stripper Janson Wu '00. "Usually we get kicked out of Lamont, but that didn't happen this year."
Dudley Co-op residents pride themselves on their originality, and participants say they see the striptease in Lamont as a safer and more daring alternative to the traditional Primal Scream run.
"We did it because it's a tradition. Like all Harvard institutions, the
Dudley coop has irrational affection for its traditions," Aron R. Fischer '00 said. "Also because the primal scream is always so bloody cold, causing everybody to run really fast, making it difficult to get a very good view of peoples' bodies. In Lamont, you get a better look."
As for the more diligent students attempting to study in the library, they said the interruption was a short and well deserved study break.
"The Dudley strip in Lamont is without a doubt the best display of public nudity at Harvard. The only problem with this year's event is that too many people knew about it in advance," said bystander Melvin V. Priester '01. "It's a lot more fun when you're sitting there and you look up and suddenly it's on and you're like 'Wow, there's that girl from section standing in her skivvies... that's just wrong.'"