Local News

Frenzy Expected On Franklin Street With UNC Win

Posted April 4, 2005 2:46 a.m. EDT

— Authorities in Chapel Hill are bracing for possible celebrations throughout the town Monday night -- if UNC wins the NCAA Championship.

If the Tar Heels win Monday night's title game and claim their first NCAA championship since 1993, Chapel Hill police said they expect as many as 15,000 to 20,000 fans to descend on Franklin Street for the celebration.

Gov. Mike Easley is putting some barbecue and a six-pack of Cheerwine on the line in a bet with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Blagojevich has countered with an offer of a pizza from Papa Del's in Champaign, Illinois, and a six-pack of Orange Crush.

A local company is watching the game closer than most businesses. MJ Soffe in Fayetteville prints T-shirts. If the Tar Heels win, dozens of people will work throughout the night to print roughly 15,000 shirts. Then, they will ship the clothes to stores like the UNC bookstore. Crews already have the designs drawn.




Fans Celebrate The Win

On Saturday night, Franklin Street was alive after North Carolina beat Michigan State 87-71 to advance to the NCAA championship game. After thousands of fans watched the game in the Dean Smith Center, they headed for Franklin Street, where the party did not stop until early Sunday morning.

As planned, the Chapel Hill Police Department closed Franklin Street from Raleigh Road to Church Street, and Columbia Street was closed from Rosemary Street to Cameron Avenue. Police estimated the crowd at about 7,000 people.

Two people were arrested -- one for resisting an officer and another for interfering with emergency medical personnel.

Four bonfires were set in the closed area.

Orange County Emergency Medical Services responded to seven calls, three of which were for burns resulting from four bonfires that were set in the closed area.

Chief Dan Jones of the Chapel Hill Fire Department said he did not know how badly the people were burned.

The fires burned for an hour before they were put out and street sweepers washed the streets. The streets were opened to traffic at 1:37 a.m.

Despite three people being slightly burned by jumping through bonfires on Saturday night, fire officials say they will let fans build bonfires on Monday. But the bonfires must be built away from buildings.