Referred to as "The Southern Side of Heaven" in the University of North Carolina's basketball brochure, the cozy little town of Chapel Hill turned hellacious tonight after the Tar Heels clinched their first NCAA championship since 1957.
Tar Heel freshman Michael Jordan's winning jump shot in the closing seconds was met with an uproar in Chapel Hill, the streets of which soon became overloaded with crazed Carolina fans. Some poured Carolina blue paint over each other; others used brushes.
Many of the people who poured into Chapel Hill's main drag, Franklin Street, immediately after the game, came from Purdy's, generally considered the busiest bar in a town with a lot of them. The 700 to 800 customers who left Purdy's in a near-shambles with displaced chairs and beercans dotting every inch of the floor tried to cause similar havoc on the street.
At least one of the five television crews attempting to present live reports back to their stations were forced to relocate on the person-to-person packed street.
"This is a lot wilder than it was last year," said Mike Bozymski, Purdy's part-time bouncer, who flew in from New York with "about 75" other Tar Heel rooters. "All Carolina fans are just as hungry as Coach (Dean) Smith and the team. Even if we lose, it will still be wild.
"This is the happening," he said. "This is a bigger spontaneous event than Times Square is on New Year's Eve. I would definitely rather be here than in New Orleans. I was in Atlanta (five years ago when Marquette beat Carolina in the final), and there weren't nearly as many parties as there are here tonight."
The vast majority of the parties were in the bars of Franklin Street; despite taking reservations only, Purdy's, The Four Corners and Harrison's sported long lines outside their entrances well into the second half.
"We could stay in our dorms and get a couple of kegs," said UNC junior Frank Jones, whose partner in crime, junior Randy Sandlin, planned to join the throngs immediately after the game to help paint the toilet-paper-littered streets and whatever faces happened to get in the way of a brush.
"Everyone in the streets is going to Carolina blue tonight," Sandlin said. "If you come near us, you'll get it, too."