In the final 10 seconds of UNC men's basketball’s 90-83 win over Duke, people began rushing out of Top of the Hill Bar and Distillery to get to Franklin Street. Town residents and students alike wanted to be the first on the street to celebrate the win.
While restaurants and bars on Franklin were a popular spot to watch the game, some students found it was easier to rush from campus. First-year Jessica Thompson watched the game with friends at the Student Union.
“Just getting to be here for the very first time and see Carolina beat Duke, it was just mind blowing,” she said. “The best part is getting to be here with my friends and classmates and feel that energy. We were all just so happy in this moment.”
As the streets filled, people started Tar Heel chants, sent drones into the air and burned couches. First-year Nicholas Vorobiov said he was overwhelmed, but excited by the action.
“It’s good to get the win, good to be out here, it’s good to just be on top of Duke,” he said. “We’re all just having a good time, there’s a little bit of fire, but everyone’s being safe about it.”
All of the activities caused street closures on Franklin and Columbia streets, according to a statement issued by Chapel Hill police Capt. Joshua Mecimore, spokesperson for the Chapel Hill Police Department. Regular traffic resumed at 12:20 a.m., shortly after officials cleared streets at 11:45 p.m.
No one was arrested while people rushed, the statement said, but Orange County Emergency Services treated four people.
This was the first time people rushed Franklin Street in 2017. The Tar Heels lost to Duke, 86-78, on Feb. 9 at Cameron Indoor Stadium, and UNC hadn’t beaten Duke at home since 2014. First-year Coleman Breen said it was exciting to experience a Franklin rush in his first year.
“It’s my first home win here at UNC against Duke,” he said. “I’m just really happy and excited. It’s extremely overwhelming, but it’s good.”
It was an especially exciting night for UNC seniors, who have had the opportunity to rush Franklin Street three times and watched the Tar Heels play in the National Championship game last year.
UNC senior Elizabeth Dinkins said rushing Franklin Street has been a different experience every year.
“The first time you do it, it’s really special,” she said. “This year was different because I got to see everyone experience something that I’ve experienced before.”
Last year, Dinkins said she ran to Franklin from the Smith Center after UNC won the Final Four game.
“I remember feeling so conflicted, like ‘Do we rush now? Is this a rush worthy event?’” she said. “Because it wasn’t like we had won the National Championship.”
Many people arrived at bars and restaurants on Franklin Street early in the day to get good seats. Linda’s Bar and Grill bartender Andrew Roush said the atmosphere before the game was crazy, but it calmed down shortly after.
“Once the game starts the atmosphere is totally different because everyone is watching the TV,” he said. “During halftime, people rush to the bar. It goes in waves.”
Dinkins said basketball has played a central role in unifying students and residents in the area.
“It’s not about the actual rushing, but rushing with your best friends,” she said. “I think the community we have at Carolina is a really special thing.”
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.