Streets of Campustown filled with students for “801 day”


People stand out on balconies looking over Campustown celebrating the Saturday before classes.

Katherine Kealey, Editor in Chief

Ryan Wendl, age 19, is one of many people who traveled from other cities to Ames to celebrate the Saturday before school starts at Iowa State known as “801 day.” 

Wendl is from Carroll, Iowa, and he does not go to Iowa State. He and his friends came to Ames equipped with cooler backpacks to carry their beverages. On “801 day,” students typically drink alcohol and party starting at 8:01 a.m. and lasting until 2 a.m. the Sunday before classes. 

“It was a late start…” Wendl said. “My alarm went off at 6:30 but I just kept declininglike snooze. And then it was 8:10, and I was behind, so I just started pounding them down.”

Wendl said he and his friends planned to party all day and hit the bars at night. 

Es Tas Bar and Grill opened at 11 a.m. Saturday. General manager Ben Kooker participated in 801 while he attended Iowa State, but now that he has graduated, he is working instead. The restaurant is offering food and drink specials all Saturday long.

“We got a lot of staff, and we are 21 plus all day,” Kooker said. “We are just kind of loading up on lime, hot sauce and beer, stuff like that to get ready for the day.”

Even with increased fines for nuisance party infractions, by 10 a.m. the streets of Campustown were crowded with hundreds of students. Fines for first-time offenses increased from $100 to $650 after the Ames City Council received multiple complaints from Ames residents according to reporting from the Iowa State Daily.

After waking up at 7 a.m., Max Sutcliffe, a senior studying software engineering, began celebrating at 8:01 a.m. with a Busch Light and breakfast. He was joined by a group of friends walking the streets of Campustown toward a house party. 

Sofia Stumpf, a senior studying biology, woke up at 5:50 a.m. to cook the food. She said even though they do not have many pots and pans in their house, they still served an egg bake, bacon, muffins and a breakfast pizza. 

Sutcliffe, age 21, said he is still worried about the increased fines for tickets. 

“The Ames local government is subsidizing police officers and towing truck companies just to screw over all the people who are paying for it and the students just for celebrating a tradition of Iowa State,” Sutcliffe said. “So I am upset about it a little bit to say the least.” 

Police officers from the city of Ames and Iowa State patrolling the streets during the “801 day” celebration. Jacob Rice/Iowa State Daily

The city has contracts with a towing company to set a standard fee to remove vehicles illegally parked on public property, said Susan Gwiasda, public information officer for the city of Ames.

“We don’t make money off tows, we don’t want to tow vehicles, and we only tow in situations where there is a public safety concern (in this case – emergency vehicle access. In the winter, we tow to completely clear snow routes),” Gwiasda stated in an email response to the Daily. “Having a tow contract ensures a consistent price to the vehicle owner, a standard process for retrieving vehicles, and we work with one business. We don’t subsidize the private tow company nor receive any revenue from the process.”

It costs approximately $70 to pay for a towing fee. The city may also issue $15 parking tickets for illegally parked vehicles. 

“I know some of the bigger parties there can be problems but some of the smaller parties, what is the harm that is really coming to the public in general,” Stumpf said. “I think it is very interesting that they really want to crack down on all of those.”

Iowa State University offered Welcome Weekend with alternative activities for students to participate in on Saturday and Friday. Students can use their student IDs to access free admission to the Furman Aquatic Center, and the university also provided free food. All six students interviewed said they did not know what Iowa State Welcome Weekend was. 

Kayden Kauzlarich is a junior majoring in business and advertising and works for a Campustown apartment. He helped students move in on Saturday. Kauzlarich said he saw cars being towed from St. John’s Episcopal Church.

“Last year I got started at 9; I don’t need to be drinking at 8 so I just start whenever I get up,” Kauzlarich said. “Unfortunately, this year has a little bit of a late start.”

David Pino III is a University of Iowa student who decided to come to Ames for the Saturday before school celebration. He woke up at 6:45 a.m. and was drinking by 7:30 a.m. with a Busch Light for breakfast. Pino also hit the town with a cooler backpack loaded with a 12-pack. 

“We smacked the twisted bag a little bit too,” Pino said. “Breakfast is for not-champions.”

Ethan Rude is a freshman studying construction engineering. He moved to campus Tuesday and heard about 801 before coming to Iowa State. Rude took part in the first day of Destination Iowa State but said he was not sure if he would stop by any campus events on Saturday. 

“I think it is looking a lot like what I thought it would be,” Rude said. “I think it will pick up even more later on.”

Reporting contributed by Amber Mohmand.