Frozen Flapjacks: Nine students camp out for IHOP grand opening in CF

By: Jason Rathjen

For me, the end of the weekend is usually a cram session in which I focus on the procrastinated homework, but not this past Sunday. Instead of feeling the wrath of senioritis, I decided to join some friends on a campout.

This was not your ordinary campout, though. Instead of sitting around a fire in the woods singing songs, we jammed into a tent in the new IHOP parking lot in Cedar Falls.

The idea came from the mind of senior Eric Sesterhenn, an IHOP enthusiast. Sesterhenn has consumed every variety of pancake that IHOP has on its menu.

“I’m a big fan of pancakes, and I’ve always loved IHOP.  It started as kind of a joke, thinking that we were going to camp out at IHOP,” Sesterhenn said.

The night began with us arriving in the parking lot at 11:30 p.m. Sunday night to set up camp. This proved to be a very difficult task in the cold. A few of us took a trip to Walmart since we forgot to bring pillows.

Once we got back, it was time to hit the hay. This was probably the most challenging part of the night since we had nine people to fit into an eight-person tent. It was like a can of sardines, but it did help keep all of us at least a little warmer.

After a nearly sleepless night, we awoke at 5 a.m. to start getting ready to be the first customers at the new IHOP. After the tent was torn down and thrown into the back of my truck before anyone had arrived, the wait began for the little hand to strike 6.

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 9.25.58 AMWalking into the restaurant was like discovering something that people have been searching for years to unearth. The warm, inviting environment was just what we needed after enduring the elements for seven hours.

After I finished my Cin-a-Stack pancakes, eggs and hashbrowns, I decided it was time to head home to try and grab a few minutes of sleep before I had to get ready for school.

If I learned one thing from this experience, it’s that even though it was a school night, the memory was worth it. The craziest part about the campout wasn’t the idea itself, but that KWWL got word and came to make a story out of some high school boys camping out at IHOP.

Once the story was posted to social media, it ignited a firestorm of comments both positive and negative. People were calling us “stupid people” and complaining that we were taking up parking space for other customers.

However, we also received very positive feedback from others, applauding us for braving the cold weather just for some good food.

Nevertheless, we had a great time and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again for the Chick-Fil-A grand opening on March 3. Gotta love those waffle fries.

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