The first day of February was a memorable one for Villanovans: it was the first snow day of the year.
It started snowing around 1 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 31. The snow was intermittent, with hail, and never rose to blizzard-level intensity. Still, it accumulated across campus and showed no signs of stopping. By night-time, there was chatter throughout the University about a possible snow day the next day. The talk intensified when students were notified that the dining halls that night were all shutting down early at 8 p.m.
Finally, at 5:18 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 1, with about eight inches of snow on the ground, students received a Nova Alert that all classes that day were cancelled. This applied to both online and in-person classes. COVID-19 surveillance testing was cancelled as well. Some professors treated the day as a proper snow day, while others sent students lecture videos to watch. Nevertheless, students had free time, and they were going to use it.
Students all over campus flocked to hills for the opportunity to sled. The hills by Delurey Hall and by Picotte Hall at Dundale were popular spots. However, by far the most popular locations were the area surrounding St. Thomas of Villanova Church and Austin Field. Students started gathering at these locations around noon, and the attendance continued to rise throughout the day until the sun began to set.
Since most students didn’t come prepared with a sled, they had to make do with other items. Most used cardboard as a makeshift sled (which proved to be problematic, since a few rounds of sledding against the snow considerably softens the cardboard). Some used garbage bags, laundry baskets and mattresses. There were also rumors of students taking Community First signs and “Tent Open” signs and sledding with them. Some students, instead of sledding, snowboarded down hills or rolled down them while curled up in garbage bins.
On Austin Field, there were also football games, spikeball games and snowball fights all over. Most students seemed to stay in groups of three or four, presumably with their roommates. The most surprising sight was to see pairs of male students jogging around in shorts in the chilly 28°F weather.
One group of senior girls was constructing an igloo, including Jenna Kolano.
“We’ve been building for almost two hours,” Kolano said. “We probably have two hours left to go.”
Later that day, Kolano reported on further progress.
“We didn’t have the stamina to finish it, but we got a few more layers done,” Kolano responded. “If we get class cancelled tomorrow [Tuesday, Feb. 2], we’re gonna try to finish, if it’s still there.”
Fortunately for Kolano, it continued to snow until Tuesday morning, and there was yet another snow day on Feb. 2. The group finished their igloo that afternoon.
One sight that could be found everywhere, whether on South Campus, Main Campus or West Campus, was the presence of snowmen of all sizes. These creations sat outside of residence halls, in open fields and at the doorstep of St. Thomas of Villanova Church.
All in all, it was a beautiful scene to witness the widespread joy across campus. It was the most uniformly cheerful day of the year so far for the University. After a chaotic and distressing month, the events of Feb. 1 (and Feb. 2) were especially uplifting.
Some freshmen coming from the southern half of the United States may have never even experienced snow before in their lifetimes. Hopefully, the University just gave them a great first impression.