ESTERO — They should have been studying or maybe relaxing after a busy first week of school.
Instead, dozens of Florida Gulf Coast University students spent Saturday afternoon dancing and partying in a slippery, soapy foam pool near the beach by North Lake Village.
FGCU held its annual foam party from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. to cap off a week of events welcoming students back to campus. Liz De La Rosa, assistant director of residence life at the university, said the foam party is one of the most popular events on campus.
The party was traditionally held in the evening during the spring semester, but De La Rosa said the event was so popular residence life officials decided to hold it during Week of Welcome instead.
“I love it,” said Kristina Patchen, 21. "Being in the foam with people ... it just makes me happy."
The pool — similar to a bounce house, minus the roof and filled with a soapy foam that floated toward the beach whenever the wind picked up — was filled with about two dozen FGCU students early in the afternoon, and De La Rosa said she expected the whole North Lake Village yard to be filled as the day went on.
More than 200 students have attended the event in years past.
De La Rosa said students asked that the event be held during the day so they could go to the foam party right after participating in a morning-long beach clean up. But a daytime event meant scorching temperatures as students frolicked in the foam.
Roommates Ashley Tyburczy and Lorrin Wasicsko cooled off in the shade to after a few minutes of foamy fun.
“It was really fun,” said Tyburczy, an 18-year-old Sarasota native.
Tyburczy and Wasicsko, 18, of Plantation, said the party was a nice way to blow off steam after the first week of school. Both women are freshman.
Wasicsko said the first week “went slowly,” and college life was going to be an adjustment.
Week of Welcome, which started Aug. 18 and ended Saturday, was meant to help with that, said De La Rosa. The school hosted events daily — including a casino night, a pool party and an activity fair — and urged students to get involved at FGCU.
“It’s been awesome,” De La Rosa said of this year’s Week of Welcome. “It has been very successful.”