Senior Caitlin Mason went from storming the basketball court to storming Franklin Street Thursday.
Mason was one of about 10,000 people who stormed Franklin Street after the men’s basketball team won against Duke in the Smith Center.
“It was exhilarating,” Mason said. “There were so many people, and I really felt like we were one Carolina.”
The crowds flocked from the stadium to Franklin Street where bar-goers and other crazed fans had already built bonfires to celebrate the rivalry win.
Students were climbing the trees lining Franklin Street and the traffic poles at the intersection of Columbia and Franklin Streets to better see the bonfires and celebrate the big win.
Fans began storming Franklin Street after big wins decades ago, but it is illegal to hold a campfire for special events without a permit from the town fire marshall, according to town ordinances.
Junior Jessica Murray also stormed Franklin Street for the first time Thursday.
“We were watching it at (Ehringhaus), and we saw there were like six seconds left, and we just freaked out and starting putting on our shoes,” Murray said.
“And then we just heard everyone screaming, and we ran out the door and there were mass people just charging toward Franklin Street. It was crazy.”
The Chapel Hill Police had extra officers available for the storming.
No storming-related arrests had been made as of 12:30 a.m., according to Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue.
Blue said officers spent most of their night trying to control the crowds and prevent anyone from getting injured in the bonfires.
“We had a few bonfires as usual,” Blue said.
“We worked to try to get them extinguished as quickly as we can.”
There were no reported bonfire-related injuries, Blue said.
The crowds began thinning out around 12:30 a.m., and officers hoped to have the streets cleared out and ready for traffic by 2 a.m.
Chapel Hill Police Sgt. Preston Oppegard said the department hadn’t experienced an increase in calls by midnight Thursday.
But Thursday’s celebration wasn’t just for students — fans of all ages were excited about the UNC win.
Chapel Hill resident Tom Nuzum has gone to almost every UNC basketball game for the past 40 years.
He wasn’t sure if he would be heading to the Franklin Street festivities, but he said if he did he might bring his dog, Holly, to see all the action.
Junior Charles Brady was in the middle of the Franklin Street crowds pushing to see the bonfires at the intersection in front of Top of the Hill.
“I watched it at my house,” Brady said.
“When we won, I ran out. There are things burning, and it is awesome.”
Assistant City Editor McKenzie Coey contributed reporting
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