Slideshow: Chapman spring Undie Run draws 2,000
ORANGE – Chapman University's twice-annual Undie Run is a way for students to get rid of stress – and clothes – after final exams. More than 2,000 students de-clothed to de-stress late Wednesday night.
At 11:30 p.m., less than 100 students were gathered in the campus' Attallah Piazza. Within 15 minutes, the crowd swelled to a couple of thousand, already stripped down to bras, panties, boxers, briefs and thongs and pajamas.
Ten minutes shy of midnight, chants of "Undie Run!" rang out.
And the mob took off running, jogging and walking, heading along the middle of Glassell Street for the short trek to the traffic circle and back.
"Finals were stressing me out," said Sophomore MeKenna Lelah, on her first Undie Run. "I decided to let loose and do it."
The Undie Run's origins are lost to time. Some say the ritual, which breaks out at other universities as well, began at Chapman about 10 years ago; others say it began before that. At Chapman, there is an Undie Run in the winter and another in the spring, each taking place the Wednesday of finals week.
The university does not sanction the event.
"Because of Chapman's unique location in the heart of Old Towne Orange, the university works closely with the city in assuring that the run takes place quickly and safely, with no danger to any people or property," said Mary Platt, a university spokeswoman.
Sophomore Scott Weller, participating in his second Undie Run, wore boxer briefs and painted his torso to resemble Captain America. He donned gloves and a shield.
"Semi-nude is a plus," Weller said. "I enjoy running with my amigos."
Lelah didn't have any inhibitions about running down the street in her underwear: "You have to be confident in who you are and just do it."
Residents and onlookers lined the street to watch the parade of scantily clad college students making the half-mile journey to the Plaza area.
The event gained notoriety and media attention after the winter 2008 run left the historic fountain in the Plaza broken and city officials angry.
Chapman University eventually picked up the $13,000 tab to fix the fountain and worked with city officials and student leaders to avoid a similar incident from occurring again.
Since that run, the fountain in the Plaza, and all three of the fountains on the university campus have been barricaded. Platt said the university pays for fencing to protect the Plaza fountain, as well as fencing around the fountain at the Main Library & History Center.
As in previous years, Orange Police Department had a very visual presence in the Plaza. Nearly 30 police officers surrounded Plaza Park to make sure the runners didn't linger too long in the Plaza.
Unlike the run in the winter, the police had to form a skirmish line to slowly usher the stragglers back to the campus.
Doustar, a sophomore, has participated in four Undie Runs and plans on continuing the tradition.
"I just think it's a great way to get out and have fun during finals," she said.
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