As the North Carolina men’s basketball team preps for its big game Saturday against Syracuse, the Chapel Hill Police Department and downtown businesses are gearing up for a potential massive celebration.
The Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership sent out an entire list of dos and don’ts for businesses and property owners in and around where celebrations may occur.
This list included making sure lids are tightly secure on trash cans, that no one is parking on streets after 7 p.m. and recommending limiting the sale of Carolina Blue paint.
“It’s trying to discourage any vandalism that might take place with that type of paint,” said Bobby Funk, assistant director of the downtown partnership.
As the Tar Heels run drill after drill in Houston, the police will enlist the help of some extra officers back in Chapel Hill.
“We don’t have 300 in Chapel Hill, so we will have to hire officers from surrounding agencies,” Chapel Hill police Chief Chris Blue said.
Blue said there would be 300 officers on duty both Saturday and Monday nights.
And as UNC boxes out its opponents, police officers will rope off streets for hundreds of fans to rush downtown.
Franklin Street, Columbia Street, Raleigh Street and Henderson Street will all be partially closed off to cars in the event of a North Carolina win to ensure the safety of those celebrating in the roads.
And as the boys in Carolina Blue work on 3-pointers, the town and businesses will work on setting protocols in place.
The protocols for post-victory celebrations are similar to ones from previous years, like in 2009 when the Tar Heels last traveled to the Final Four and won the National Championship.
“In years past, there have been similar protocols that have been taken with the town and the business community,” Funk said.
These protocols include prohibiting things like weapons, alcoholic beverages, glass bottles, paint, fireworks and explosives, combustible or flammable substances, animals and coolers.
Potential Franklin Street bonfires after a big win concern some members of UNC’s faculty and staff, including Bruce Cairns, the director of the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center.
Cairns brought up the safety concerns at a Faculty Executive Committee meeting in early March.
Senior Merrick Osborne said he would probably rush Franklin Street on both days if UNC were to win, adding it would be more of a light jog on Saturday and a full-out sprint on Monday.
“I hope that we’re able to express ourselves as students, whatever that looks like,” Osborne said.
But junior Sam Weeks said he would probably only rush Franklin Street if UNC makes it to a championship win.
“There is just so much energy and everyone is so hyped about Carolina basketball and it’s a great experience,” Weeks said.
“It will be crazier if we win the national championship.”