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First Rain is an annual event held at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) which began at Porter College. It is also known as the Naked Run. During the first rainfall of the school year, students run naked through the campus, generally starting at Porter College.
First Rain started in fall of 1989, following the weeks of the Loma Prieta earthquake, which hit only 10 miles from the campus and was a frightening event for the students of this mountainous university. Beginning at Porter College, they proceeded to walk across the length of the UCSC campus naked. This was the beginning of the tradition of First Rain. The First Rain began because students were afraid to sleep inside the Porter College dorms after the earthquake. The Porter students supported each other in a large outdoor sleepover. In a community game of dares, they dared each other to run around naked. Although some students slept outside in the quad the first night following the earthquake, the dorms were quite safe, and students moved back in almost immediately.
Traditions and rules
Over the past several years, First Rain's prerequisite formation rules were formed in order to give more students the chance to run:
- the run would only form on a school night
- the rain had to fall almost nonstop that evening (from around 6:00pm to 10:00pm)
- at 10:00 pm, the run would begin in Porter.
Historically however, First Rain runs did not have prerequisites to be met before beginning: these rules did not exist before the mid-2000s. During the 1990s, the rules were very simple: as soon as the heavy rains of the year fell, students were to disrobe and run. This is because nonstop rain would sometimes not occur before Winter Break. And in the recent years of the severe California drought, the rules for First Rain became more difficult to maintain, inspiring talks among the student body as to what makes a "real" First Rain. Aiming to make this event a yearly tradition as it is at other universities, the students decided on running during the first rain of every school year (since other events, like the first school day or first snow had already been taken by other universities). The First Rain tradition has expanded into a more organized event with the addition of the rules. Beginning spontaneously, the students group in the Porter quad and then run from college to college and gather more people into the parade, beginning with College Eight, then Kresge College, and ending at Stevenson College.
Although not a sanctioned event, the campus safety officers and campus police rarely make arrests and appear mainly to assure the safety of the night runners.
It is highly discouraged and against the spirit of the run to take photographs of the runners that may violate their privacy.
- The Loma Prieta Earthquake 20 Years Later from UC Santa Cruz Library
- Hendrickson, Wayne (1998). Don't Tell the Parents!: a delightful narrative of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll in today's colleges. Mount Hermon, California: Hearth & Home Productions. pp. 103–106.
- Hendrickson, Wayne (2007-05-16). Story Time With Wayne (Speech). Fireside Lounge, Porter College, UCSC.