The party that wasn’t

By Gary Hermann

For the first time in 13 years, the people of Lexington were ready to party like it was 1998. When Virginia Commonwealth and Butler tipped off Saturday, several bars on South Limestone had lines from the front door to the street.

People began showing up at Two Keys Tavern at 10 a.m.

“It’s important to come here because there are so many people here for the same reason,” agriculture communication senior William Edmiston said. “There are a lot of people you wouldn’t normally talk to that you can start a conversation with.”

Medical student Alex Blandford proudly wore blue and white striped overalls at Two Keys.

“The outfit is to support our team,” Blandford said. “We’re trying to get as wild and crazy as we can.”

Art studio senior Tommy Shelburne got to Two Keys at 2 p.m. and was trying to enjoy every second of his last NCAA Tournament as a UK student.

“I want to celebrate like it’s my last,” Shelburne said, “because it is.”

Shelburne was wearing a pair of jorts — jean shorts, popularized by UK’s No. 55, Josh Harrellson — and said he would do anything, even trade his soul, if it meant UK would win a championship.

“This is the biggest thing ever to me,” Shelburne said. “I cut off the legs of my $100 jeans.”

Shelburne said he loved everyone inside Two Keys and considered them all to be his family.

Hugh Jass Burgers general manager John Sanders said the first customers arrived around noon, and the restaurant was full by 1 p.m.; yet, many chose to wait in the long line to get inside anyway.

“They won’t get in,” Sanders said.

Art education freshman Lauren Burch waited for more than an hour to get into Hugh Jass Burgers.

“After the game it will be crazy — win or lose,” Burch said. “If you win, party hard; if you lose, party harder.”

After the game, police were in position with riot gear, but the Big Blue Nation did not pour onto South Limestone to celebrate. Some cried, and others vented, but no large crowds gathered in the street.

Business graduate student Steven Jesse arrived at Two Keys Tavern at 11 a.m. and did not regret his decision to arrive that early.

“You can’t beat the Big Blue Nation,” Jesse said. “If you, six months ago, said we would make the Final Four, everybody would be happy.”

Geology junior Jordan Dorough arrived at the Paddock at 5 p.m. and said the main difference between watching a game in a bar as opposed to at home was “more shoving.”

“Before we lost, it was awesome,” Dorough said. “Everyone was amped.”

Kinesiology senior and UK hockey player Jay Morgan went with his friends to Two Keys immediately after the game to avoid the “one in, one out” crowds.

“It’s really glum right now,” Morgan said after the loss. “Everyone is not too happy. It’s way different than last week.”

Morgan referred to UK’s win over North Carolina last Sunday, after which crowds flooded the streets to celebrate.

Lexington Police Lt. David Marcum said the area with the highest concentration of people fluctuated after the loss, as people began to leave the Limestone area.

Marcum said the total number of arrests and number of couches burned for the night is not yet known.