After 45,000 Tar Heel fans and students rushed Franklin Street to celebrate UNC’s NCAA Championship in 2009, a toppled tree lay on the corner of Franklin and Columbia streets.
For three years, the tree — which was made into a sculpture of a hand holding a basketball — has served as a monument to UNC’s victory that day.
But Tuesday, the “championship tree,” as it has become known, was removed from the corner because decay had overtaken it.
“I was up on the roof at Spanky’s that night, and there were five or six guys on that tree, and I knew it was doomed,” said Greg Overbeck, co-owner of Spanky’s Restaurant & Bar, which is located on the same corner as the sculpture.“I always wondered how long the sculpture would last.”
Dwight Bassett, Chapel Hill’s economic development officer, said he was asked to sculpt the piece in an effort to save the tree.