WAVERLY - With the pace of classes picking up at Wartburg College, many students needed a breather from tests and papers. In fact, a mass e-mail Monday outlined a plan for a campuswide protest at President Jack Ohle's home if the reprieve wasn't granted soon.

"Yesterday I thought it was Outfly. It wasn't, and I almost cried," sophomore Steve Ketchum said.

Emotions lifted Tuesday when Ohle sounded the Victory Bell, declaring Outfly and a day of no classes.

"I'm stoked," joked Ketchum, 20, of St. Cloud, Minn. "People where going to flog Jack Ohle if he didn't call Outfly."

The annual event at Wartburg - ausflug in German - dates to the 1890s. The college and student body president pick the date and keep it a tightly held secret. Anticipation for the day of leisure and fun grows until people begin begging for the event.

"You can't predict Outfly," senior Tiffany Flowers said. "Everyone tries, but it's a big waste of time."

Trying to figure out when Outfly will be is a conversation starter for many students and teachers. Some commonly held theories are:

- It's always Oct. 10;

- It can't happen during homecoming week;

- It can't be on a Friday because kids will go home;

- It always follows an order of days of the week. If it was a Monday last year, it will be Tuesday this year.

None of the speculation is scientific enough for most of the 1,800 students to skip studying for a test in hopes the next day will bring Outfly. But when a big assignment gets bumped because of the Knight holiday, it's a sweet sensation.

"I can have fun instead of writing a paper," said Flowers, 21, of Chicago. "It's a good tradeoff."

Had Outfly not been called Tuesday, Flowers would have scrambled to finish a seven-page paper due at 1 p.m. She's a good student, but with classes, homework and volunteer work, she sometimes finds herself brushing against deadlines.

"I figured I could wake up early and get it done," Flowers said.

When the track team ran through her dorm in their underwear at 6 a.m. - a longtime Outfly tradition - Flowers' plans took a sudden turn for the better: Breakfast would be served by professors, and the day would bring activities like a tug-of-war challenge, disc golf tournament and open mic performances. Flowers also used the time to paint a window sign with friends and planned to catch up on some homework.

Junior Kristy Hall planned to go shopping for shoes - if she could locate her car keys, which went missing in her dorm room two weeks ago.

"If you do Outfly right, you have all your homework done ahead of time and you can do nothing all day," said Hall, 20, of New Hope, Minn.

But before Hall began her search, she needed to call some Wartburg alumni and share at least a part of the day.

"It's a tradition we won't be able to continue into our adult lives," Hall said, "and we wish we could."

Contact Brian Spannagel at (319) 291-1570 or brian.spannagel@wcfcourier.com

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