‘Oh my God, this is awesome’

Chaotic joy reigns in city after big win

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Fireworks were crackling over the Saturday night sky as fans celebrated in the streets, on the sidewalks, inside cars and everywhere else in Lawrence.

They were toasting Kansas University’s 84-66 victory over North Carolina.

“Oh my God, this is awesome,” said KU graduate Matt Unger, watching the game at Quinton’s Bar and Deli, 615 Mass.

Many fans who watched the game at Allen Fieldhouse walked up to Wescoe Beach on the KU campus and straight to Massachusetts Street to join the festive crowds.

“They didn’t even slow down,” said Capt. Schuyler Bailey of the KU Public Safety Office.

“They were determined,” said Carissa Orth, 20, a KU junior who was among the approximately 1,600 fans at Allen Fieldhouse watching the game on the scoreboard screens. Doors opened at 7 p.m. and hundreds of fan filed in. The sound was deafening as people cheered with the KU band, even booing North Carolina just as loudly.

“It was intense; it was just like being at a game,” said Laurie Gallagher, 19, a KU freshman.

Fred Plank, 88, who has been working at Allen Fieldhouse for 50 years, said the turnout surprised him.

“I expected some, but I didn’t expect this many,” he said.

Fans showed up far earlier downtown, some as early as 6:15 a.m. The wait was worth it as businesses were packed with fans keeping downtown lively all day and into this morning.

You’d have thought KU had won it all when North Carolina called a time-out with 7:32 to go in the first half, the way the crowd inside Quinton’s reacted.

“Roy never calls time-out,” yelled Jimmy Chavez as he made the time-out gesture to no one in particular.

Ardy Vanderpol, a KU fan who can recall the Wilt Chamberlain years, wanted to thank the police officers patrolling the downtown streets Saturday night.

“I think they do a good job,” she said as she gave hugs to five different officers on the corner of Seventh and Massachusetts streets.

Vanderpol said she felt she could take just a little bit of credit for KU’s victory because of the Jayhawk bracelets she makes and wears.

“I rubbed these bracelets all night,” she said. “I probably rubbed them 20 times.”

For some fans, the game was sweet revenge against Roy Williams, the former KU coach.

But come Monday, it’s on to bigger and better things: Memphis.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Grant Kaufman, 38, and a 1992 KU graduate. “Twenty years has been way too long; I’m glad to be back in the championship game.”