As the UNC men's basketball team claimed a 93-84 victory against its rival Duke in the Dean E. Smith Center, UNC fans from across campus and Chapel Hill began rushing toward the intersection of Franklin and Columbia streets.
Resounding chants of "Tar! Heels!" echoed through the crowd of an estimated 20,000. Participants climbed stoplight poles, slid down telephone wires and waved everything from flags to lightsabers on top of friends' shoulders while they cheered.
Emily Barksdale, a senior at UNC, said she watched the game at Sup Dogs — a restaurant with easy access to Franklin Street. Watching the game was exhilarating, Barksdale said. While she was not fully sure if UNC would win, she said it wasn't as scary as previous UNC-Duke games she’s watched.
After the Tar Heel victory, Barksdale said she sprinted to the street with her friend, who happened to be celebrating her birthday.
“There's something about your best friend you've known since you were a little bitty and then spending senior year together rushing Franklin,” she said. “I'm a little sentimental, I'm not going to lie.”
Alex Carrasquillo, community safety public information officer for the Town of Chapel Hill, said the Chapel Hill Police Department began closing downtown roads at about 8:30 p.m. on Saturday. Though it was a little bit ahead of the end of the actual game, he said officials recognized that people were already heading into the intersection.
Law enforcement opened the roads to traffic at about 10:30 p.m. on Saturday night, he said.
The Town of Chapel Hill reported that an estimated 15,000 students and community members rushed in 2022 when UNC defeated Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium, the year UNC also beat Duke in the NCAA Final Four.