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Squirrel Nut Zippers Draw Droves to Carrboro

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Drummer Chris Phillips says it was naive to think the band could throw a free concert without a crowd.
CARRBORO — There's nothing like the word "free" to drawa large crowd. Friday afternoon, it drew thousands to Carrboro to hearthe town's own Squirrel Nut Zippers.

The small town of Carrboro had prepared for perhaps the largest crowd ithas ever seen. The Squirrel Nut Zippers, a jazz-flavored band that got itsstart in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, decided to give the concert as a thankyou to its roots.

They band expected a crowd, but admits they were a little naive to thinkdroves wouldn't come out to Carrboro for a free concert. They credittheir promotion resources for doing their jobs.

The concert began at 5:30 p.m. and is scheduled to end by 10:00 p.m. Itwill feature Two Dollar Pistols and Bio Ritmo, in addition to The Zippers.

Carrboro's police department had preparing for a turnout of 5,000 to6,000. However, locals predicted numbers up to 10,000 to 20,000, withfans coming from all over the state.

"This will definitely be the biggest event since I've been livinghere,"Carrboro Police Chief Ben Callahan toldThe News & Observer."Fourth of July has been big, but never this big."

Police are sure the commons can only hold 6,000 safely, and parkingis limited. Bim and Laurel Streets will be closed, and alcohol, glassbottles and coolers have been banned from the event. Officials are urgingvisitors to park at Carrboro Plaza and take a shuttle bus to the concert.The fee is $1 each way.

"We haven't told anybody not to come, but we've told them what toexpect,"Callahan told the N&O. "We know 10,000 or 20,000 peopleare not going to fit in here. If we get that many, there's going to bea lot of people with no place to go when they get here."

Carrboro will have officers on duty, plus 10 off-duty Chapel Hillofficers. Officials hope they will not have to turn people away, but willconsider it if they have to.

At the time of this report, there were no crowd estimates available.