Rushing Franklin Street is a long-running tradition for North Carolina students and fans. After UNC beat Duke Saturday, students celebrated on Franklin.
Above, the Dean E. Smith Center was packed with fans during Saturday’s game against Duke. Photo by Blake Morgan.
Rushing Franklin Street after a big basketball win is a long-running tradition for North Carolina students and fans. If North Carolina beats Duke, students drop what they are doing and run. It doesn’t matter if they are in dorms, bars, the student union, or even the Dean Dome — almost every student rushes to Franklin Street.
And if the Tar Heels keep winning, through the ACC and NCAA tournaments? Expect more rushing.
At the intersection of Columbia and Franklin streets, students build a fire to jump over it. Sometimes the fire is made of paper. Other times, it’s made of a couch. On Saturday night, UNC-Chapel Hill sophomore Christine Schwarz recalled one student sacrificing clothing to light on fire.
“I turned around and this guy was taking his pants off,” Schwarz said. “Then, he just lit them on fire.”
For the 4,000 students lucky enough to get inside the Dean E. Smith Center for the game, the 1.3 mile trek is much slower than a typical 8-minute mile. The Smith Center seats 21,750 people, and exiting the building takes a while.
Fellow College Town contributor Megan Cain said leaving the Smith Center is half the challenge of getting to Franklin Street.
“About 15,000 people are trying to leave all at once, and then you have students running through the mob of people,” Cain said. “Having to weave in and out of the crowd to get there made the run much more of a light jog.”
Some students said it took them nearly 20 minutes to get to the celebration on Franklin Street from the Smith Center.
The experience of rushing Franklin Street is one that few forget, and it is a tradition that will continue for years to come, but the actual rushing is not what students are excited about. It is just something students have passed down year after year.
UNC-CH junior Francis Dela Cruz said experiencing the win is what really matters.
“There’s nothing better than knowing that your color has rightfully earned its place as number one,” Dela Cruz said.
The tradition of running to Franklin Street might be what happens after a win over Duke, but the bragging rights mean far more.
Noland Cotzin, a freshman at UNC-CH, said the win means more than the celebration.
“Beating Duke is all that matters,” Cotzin said. “Rushing Franklin is just icing on the cake.”