Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Dancin’ in the streets: Fans revel as KU advances to Final Four in New Orleans

Jayhawk fans flood Massachusetts Street following Kansas' Elite Eight victory over North Carolina, Sunday, March 25, 2012 in downtown Lawrence.

Jayhawk fans flood Massachusetts Street following Kansas' Elite Eight victory over North Carolina, Sunday, March 25, 2012 in downtown Lawrence.

March 26, 2012


Fans celebrate KU's win over North Carolina

Hundreds of fans headed for downtown Lawrence after the Kansas Jayhawks defeated North Carolina, 80-67, on Sunday to earn a trip to the Final Four. Enlarge video

The screaming had started before the game was over.

But when the last second finally ticked off the clock, the true pandemonium began. The sound of hundreds of horns honking blasted across the city. Bull horns resounded, stereos thumped and the Rock Chalk chant rang throughout the streets of downtown. People abandoned their seats in bars and restaurants to join the crowds on Massachusetts Street celebrating the 80-67 victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Decked out in KU gear, Keith Hall, 21, dashed downtown from his house a few blocks away to participate in the mayhem. Hall was raised in Lawrence and has been a lifelong KU fan. He was in town when KU clinched the championship back in 2008, a night he recalls fondly.

“It’s hard to describe (if you’ve never experienced it),” said Hall. “It feels awesome. Everyone in Lawrence is here celebrating.”

Lauren Evrard, a KU junior, was overwhelmed with joy when it was clear that KU had won.

“I cried; it was the greatest feeling ever,” Evrard said. “I’ll be staying on Mass. Street tonight.”

Sam Gurney, 21, had never witnessed the sort of revelry that an Elite Eight win creates.

“I’m excited for the next couple of weeks,” he said. “If this is how it is for the Elite Eight, I don’t want to see what happens if they win the Final Four — well, I do, but you know what I mean.”

The high energy and excitement was palpable as some people scaled light poles, and others gave hugs and high-fives to random strangers passing by. Mike and Brenda Shirmer had left Kansas City, where they had started to watch the game, during halftime so they could watch the crowds in case of a win. With two children at KU, the Shirmers are a family of Jayhawk fans.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Brenda said. “The crowd is wild but controlled.”

At least six officers stood in a row in front of Esquina, 801 Mass., eyeing the crowd. But as the party went on late into the night, there were no game-related arrests, said Lawrence Police Capt. Bill Cory.

“The crowd’s been very positive, and our officers have a lot of good interactions with the public,” Cory said around 9:30 p.m. “It’s been a continuation of the positive attitudes we had in 2008. We just ask people to be responsible and have a good time.”

The open-container rule went into effect promptly at 6 p.m., allowing alcohol in plastic cups to be consumed on the streets.

Near the corner of Eighth and Massachusetts, David Garcia sat with a group of friends on the front of his GMC Yukon Denali. Each person clutched a transparent plastic cup filled with beer, the truck’s front door was open and Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You” blared from the stereo. “I’m going to sit out here, see what happens, high-five everybody and go home,” Garcia said.

To ensure KU won, Garcia and his roommate followed a set of superstitious rules: Garcia wore a different shirt for each game leading to the Elite Eight, while his roommate wore the same one. For the North Carolina game, both sat in the same seats they had been in when KU beat Purdue. And the flag that waves outside of their house has been there for two weeks now, for fear that changing it would cause KU’s luck to shift.

It looks like the flag will stay out front now.

“At the beginning of the season I said that if Bill Self gets the Big 12, I’ll be happy with that,” Garcia said. “But now, as a fan, we want more.”


Terry Jacobsen 6 years, 2 months ago

It was great fun to see so many different people celebrating together and having a great time without destroying anything. The Lawrence police did a good job of just being available if needed. Congratulations to the players and coaches for a well earned slot in the final four. It hasn't been an easy year, but it has been memorable and fun year to watch. Great job coach Self in getting our team to exceed expectations! We love our Jayhawks!!

Paul R Getto 6 years, 2 months ago

Rock Chalk! Next stop, New Orleans and Ohio State. We'll beat 'em again with their star on the floor. Great game, guys.

CreatureComforts 6 years, 2 months ago

If we play like yesterday, we'll beat them. If we play like every other game during the tournament, we haven't a hope. I have yet to decide which extreme I have faith in yet...

classclown 6 years, 2 months ago

Did they have a permit to close down the street and have a parade impeding traffic?

Adrienne Sanders 6 years, 2 months ago

I don't know if they had a "permit" but yes, they had planned ahead of time that this would happen. Downtown businesses were made aware ahead of time.

CreatureComforts 6 years, 2 months ago

if someone went downtown to watch a game during which a seat in the Final Four could be booked, they knew darn well that it might be difficult and time consuming to get out of downtown after the game in the 50/50 chance that KU won.

woodscolt 6 years, 2 months ago

Well CC why don't you look into this and if they didn't, take in upon yourself to go downtown and raise h about it with city hall. Don't stop till you get it fixed. Oh, by the way, do they need a permit to block Mass about everyday there is a traffic jam and gridlock? Maybe you could look into that as well. Happy hunting.

flyinglindy 6 years, 2 months ago

Two tickets to see the game live, $500. Food, lodging and gas, $375. Seeing the face of Roy Williams at the end of the game, PRICELESS!!!!!!!

pace 6 years, 2 months ago

I hope the crowd out on the streets supporting their team aren't hurt or harmed by the police. I hope the protesters against the war and financial inequality in the country aren't hurt or harmed by the police. I hope either crowd doesn't hurt anyone in their zeal. Observing the different occupy protests in the country, and having observed many after game "events?" the basketball fans leave a much bigger mess. I was picking up cans and bottles on my street.

Brian Conrad 6 years, 2 months ago

another glass 3/4 empty... smile .. have a nice day .. most of all give 100 bucks to all of us 99% out there to make us smile.. do your part.. he he

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