thursday snowganza

Freshman mechanical engineering major Blake Neace jumps a ramp on his snowboard at "The Bowl" at William T. Young Library on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021 in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

They say nothing is ever as good the second time around.

Thursday's gathering at William T. Young library, the natural sequel to Monday's snow bonanza, seemed to embody this truth. A group of approximately 30 students arrived at the popular sledding site at 7 p.m., a speaker and zest for snowball fighting in tow. 

The crowd eventually grew to 40, much calmer compared to Monday's rowdy atmosphere. About 80 percent of attendees masked up to protect against Covid-19 and sledders waited longer in between trips down the hill, giving each other more space. 

However, smaller numbers didn't spoil the party. One student even rode a unicorn inflatable down the hill. 

One continuity between Monday and Thursday's events was their dangerous nature. On Monday, students biked, sled and even kayaked off of makeshift ramps, while Thursday outers faced a much slicker and icier hill. To the Kernel's knowledge, no one got seriously hurt. However, the event posed a threat as a potential superspreader event. 

Most students found out about the gathering through a GroupMe. UK sophomore and media arts & studies major Grant Blondin said he was in the GroupMe when it only included about 100 people. 

"I really wanted to see this happen because this is something that, even though it's this small and it was bigger Monday, this is still something I've always wanted to do throughout college." 

Blondin added that he wasn't concerned about the Covid-19 risk for his own sake, since he wore a mask both nights and kept a distance from others. Several other attendees shared his perspective. Freshman biomedical engineering major Kate Rierdon came out Thursday night with her roommate after homework kept them in on Monday. She said that with less people, she felt that the Covid-19 risks were slightly better. 

"I feel like as long as I keep my mask on, at least I'm trying to do my part," Rierdon said. 

Freshman computer science major James Cochran said he also felt comfortable with the large gathering, especially after the first snow several weeks ago. 

"We never got a spike then, so I wasn't really concerned," he said. "I mean, we're all college students out here."

Other students cited already having Covid-19 antibodies or the outdoor nature of the event as reasons for their attendance. The event was short-lived, with most beginning to leave around 8:10 p.m. At the end of the day, for many, including freshman kinesiology major Lauren Keenen, the desire for a normal college experience outweighed the potential danger. 

"Just having those memories and those experiences with other people, especially with Covid and everything, it's just an experience we thought we'd never have"

Natalie Parks contributed reporting