Police prepare for March Madness State Street celebrations


University of Kentucky freshman Larmont Stewart waves a burning T-shirt on State Street following the Kentucky men’s basketball team’s last-second game-winning shot over Wisconsin in the 2014 Final Four.

Kat Manouchehri

The Lexington Police Department and UK Police Department are preparing for March Madness with patrols of up to 100 officers and more from State Street to South Limestone, including off-campus housing.

Swarming State Street and watching couches burn is an annual tradition for UK fans during the NCAA Tournament. Lexington Police Chief Mark G. Barnard and UK Police Chief Joe Monroe said at a press conference that media will need credentials for the event.

“We have an operational plan at the start of it for the Sweet Sixteen, all the way to the Elite Eight, to the championship game,” Barnard said. 

The main concerns of the upcoming celebration are “the safety of people and the responsibility of people and how they celebrate responsibly,” Barnard said. “Just making sure they can be safe and still have a good time.”

State Street celebrations began in 2011 when UK made its first appearance in the Final Four under head coach John Calipari.

In a previous Kernel article, Lexington Mayor’s Office Communications Director Susan Straub said between 2011 and 2016, State Street Celebrations have cost the Lexington Police Department, Lexington Fire Department and Division of Code Enforcement about $320,000. The total amount does not include financial reports from the Division of Waste Management or the Division of Streets and Roads, which clean up the streets after the celebrations have dwindled down.

Follow @LexKyGovEvent on Twitter for information from public safety officials during the events of the upcoming celebrations.