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Thursday, April 25, 2024

Hurricane parties: How students celebrate storm days

UF students get creative to pass time during Idalia

<p>Midtown bars are seen on University Avenue in Gainesville on Monday, Aug. 21, 2023.</p>

Midtown bars are seen on University Avenue in Gainesville on Monday, Aug. 21, 2023.

Many students who grew up in Florida know that an incoming hurricane almost always grants days off from school. Now that UF students live in their own spaces, they opt to throw “hurricane parties” to pass time. 

When Hurricane Idalia made landfall Aug. 30 as a Category 3 storm, students found creative ways to entertain themselves through the storm. UF announced Aug. 28 campus would be closed starting noon Aug. 29 and would reopen Aug. 31. 

Galen Nightingale, a 19-year-old UF microbiology sophomore, threw a hurricane party with his parrot Jasper. 

Jasper, a 30-year-old orange-winged Amazon parrot, eats a diet of fruits, vegetables and pellets. He specifically loves bananas, but in a pinch, Nightingale found a muffin for Jasper’s hurricane treat.

“I wanted to make sure that he doesn’t get afraid and associate bad weather with fear,” Nightingale said. “So every time a hurricane comes it’s just a tradition. Usually, I’ll get him a banana.”

Hurricane Idalia is the second storm that Nightingale and Jasper have weathered together at UF. 

During the storm, Nightingale and Jasper hung out together in the residence hall and caught up on school work.

“He sat on the bed with me while I took a nap,” Nightingale said. “And he gave me his head to pet him.”

Others used their free time to enjoy social events.

Jonah Rautenstrauch, a 19-year-old UF political science sophomore, spent his hurricane days enjoying nightlife in midtown. 

When he found out about the campus closure Aug. 28, he was not too worried about the storm as a Florida native. 

“So I had a lot of people who were talking about it say that this is a really big deal,” Rautenstrauch said. “And I honestly just didn’t think it was going to be.”

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Rautenstrauch and his friends went to The Rowdy Reptile Aug. 29 despite his friend’s worries that the beginning of the storm was going to hit that night.

“He was telling me, ‘Don’t go out tonight. It’ll be super stormy,’” Rautenstrauch said. “But I was like, ‘Oh it will be fine,’ and went to Rowdy’s. God bless Rowdy’s.”

The weather worked in Rautenstrauch’s favor and he didn’t experience rain or wind that night. With class still out Aug. 30, he finished homework before heading out to JJ’s Tavern.

“Midtown was really, really packed. Which was really funny and a little bit ironic,” Rautenstrauch said. “Just because even the day before when there wasn’t a hurricane it was more crowded the day where it was the most threat of a hurricane.”

Many bars in Midtown held specials during the storm days. Liberty Street Pub held an “all you can drink” event Aug. 29.

“We saw around 300 people come out for the night,” owner Felicia Suarez-Rogers said. “And the energy matched that of syllabus week. I think the excitement just sort of carried over.”

Sofia Chianella, an 18-year-old UF political science freshman, spent her hurricane party at a friend’s off campus apartment. 

“The gathering we went to was a good experience, and it was exciting as we were able to see a lot of our friends,” Chianella said.

Although Idalia was Chianella’s first hurricane at UF, she has lived through many before and was not scared to wait out the storm in Gainesville. 

“I was not worried about that as I knew that the buildings on campus were extremely sturdy and well built,” Chianella said. “And I knew that my roommate and I were there for each other if anything were to happen.”

Contact Megan Howard at mhoward@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @meganmhxward.


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Megan Howard

Megan Howard is a second-year journalism major and the K-12 Education reporter for The Alligator. When she's not writing, you can find her rewatching the Eras Tour movie or reading The Hunger Games series.


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