This year's Milliron Fest was cold and rainy, but that didn't stop Ohio University students from celebrating the start of Athens' fest season.

The temperature hovered around freezing for most of the night, and there were some snowflakes earlier in the day. But after a brief drizzle in the late afternoon, the weather dried up. 

Still, braving the weather was worth it for some students.

"It's going to be worth it — quote me on that," Ally Brooker, a freshman studying integrated social studies education, said when asked if the turnout would be strong for Milliron.

In order to stay dry, some partygoers on Milliron constructed makeshift tents of tarp over their decks. One resident, Derrick Taylor, said that he and his roommates spent $100 and about half an hour constructing a tent over their porch.

"Having engineers as friends has its perks," he said.

Athens Police Chief Tom Pyle asked the six students who had made their own tents to take them down. He said the self-made tents were a code violation and a fire hazard: If the tarp caught fire, people could get trapped underneath.

"Really, it's just about safety," Pyle said. 

There were no other major run ins between festgoers and police.

"I don't figure there will be any issues tonight," he said.

After the tents were taken down, Pyle said he was cold and hungry and was going home to eat dinner.

A couple of students went with pop-up tents, which Pyle said were acceptable. One student was Londo Farmer, a junior studying mechanical engineering. He said he bought a pop-up tent, which has a roof but no sides, for $85. He felt it was a worthwhile investment.

"Think about it, we can use it now and for (Number) Fest," he said.

In order to combat the low temperatures, a couple of houses started fires in steel fire pits to stay warm. One on the northern end of Milliron quickly attracted a large crowd of people.

Friday was also St. Patrick's Day, and several Milliron attendees sported green shirts, hats and beaded necklaces.

One attendee decked out in St. Patrick's Day gear was Archie, a lab-husky mix who belonged to OU senior Will Jeanneret. Jeanneret, who studies civil engineering, said his dog was enjoying the attention.

"He's only 8 months old, so this is his first fest," he said.

A few partygoers had come to Ohio University for the weekend, mainly for Saturday's Mill Fest, but came out for Milliron nonetheless. One was Hallie Benson, a junior from Bowling Green State University, who was attending Milliron for the first time.

"We'll probably go here and then to the bars," she said. "This is our pregame."

Benson's friend who she was staying with, Lauren Kennedy, a junior studying public health management said she thought the turnout would be better. Several attendees started leaving Milliron around 8:30 p.m. for the bars on Court Street. 

"I thought it would be more crowded, but it is very cold," Kennedy said.

@torrantial

lt688112@ohio.edu 

Bailey Gallion and Ellen Wagner contributed to this report.

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