Oh, what a ‘bluetiful’ day

Blue Grass Airport

Perhaps the most dedicated fans Sunday night were those who braved the cold to greet the team as its private flight arrived at Blue Grass Airport.

More than 2,500 people waited near the runway, wrapped in blankets and sitting in lawn chairs. The “C-A-T-S” cheer was of course present there, too.

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity you have while you are a student,” human nutrition sophomore Kate Moore said.

The plane landed to cheers of “Go big blue!” The team was home, and its fans were just getting the night started.

Fans continued to rally when the players got off the plane and walked over to greet the fans through the gates surrounding the tarmac.

Harrellson even climbed an airport truck with the basketball net around his neck to raise the Final Four trophy and display it for the fans.

Wildcat Lodge

After the Cats left the Blue Grass Airport, they made their way back to their dorm, where they were greeted by several hundred fans, some of whom had been at the airport to watch the team get off the plane minutes earlier.

Harrellson was a crowd-pleaser, wearing his signature jorts, which he eventually took off (with basketball shorts underneath) and gave to a young fan.

The crowd was still hoping to see players outside the lodge as late as 1:30 a.m. on Monday morning.

When the team tried to go inside for the first time, the crowd kept cheering.

“Beat the Huskies! Beat the Huskies!”

State Street

At 7:23 p.m., psychology junior Kelsey Giurgevich stood outside of her house on State Street, eying the growing mob of ecstatic UK fans. It was a “bluetiful” sight. A group of guys congregated on a rooftop furnished with folding chairs, ready to watch the unraveling madness with the best view around. Police cars and fire trucks were already on-site, blocking entrances to the street. At the end of the month, March Madness is just beginning.

“UK fans are the most loyal,” biology junior Abbe Augenstein said. “We definitely deserve this.”

The roughly 60 people wasted no time in looking to the future. For as many pro-UK and “C-A-T-S” chants, there were just as many directed toward the University of Connecticut Huskies and top dog Kemba Walker.

“DeAndre (Liggins) will shut Kemba Walker down,” kinesiology sophomore Cody Curtis yelled. The group surrounding him erupted, high-fiving and hugging in agreement.

Giurgevich reflected on the team’s poor performance in road games in the regular season, saying the recent success makes her excitement for Final Four all that much sweeter.

“Everyone has grown a lot — I’m proud of our boys,” Giurgevich said.

Euclid and Woodland

One of the biggest celebrations took place on the corner of Euclid and Woodland.

Hundreds of students flocked to the intersection where they cheered and rallied the win.

Students cheered, “J-O-R-T-S! Jorts! Jorts! Jorts!” in support of the senior Josh Harrellson.

Others were dressed in jorts — or jean shorts — from which Harrellson’s nickname was derived.

J.D. Hammer, a pre-pharmacy junior, was wearing jorts to accompany a Patrick Patterson jersey. He said his outfit was good luck.

“Jorts is a beast,” Hammer said.

Lexington Police Commander Ron Compton was one of several police officers monitoring the crowd at the Euclid and Woodland intersection.

He said Lexington police had about 30 more officers out Sunday evening to make sure no one got hurt and to direct traffic.


From the outside of the buildings on campus, it looked like a typical Sunday — until about 7:20 p.m.

Students emerged from their dorms after being glued to the their televisions, waiting for the Cats to win so they could take to the streets.

“I was nervous. I wanted to throw up,” business freshman Kelly Deuser said. “No one expected this to happen.”

Once the game ended, it was unlike any Sunday all year.

“They scared me and I want to slap them,” biology freshman Allyson Hughes said. “This took hard work, strategy and Jorts.”

Hughes was one of more than 50 students crowded into the lobby of Patterson Hall.

In the basement of Patterson were undeclared freshman Joey Belza and political science freshman Emma Ploucha.

“We won tickets to the Final Four,” Belza said. “It will cost us $2,000 to get there, but we’ll figure it out.”

Inside the lobby of Holmes Hall, unsuspecting people immediately hugged, kissed and even tackled as they entered the building.

A driver, thought to be intoxicated, in front of Holmes carrying a couch in his truck’s bed was pulled over and eventually towed.

This was a suspicious sight given the couch burning after the Ohio State game, but it soon made sense as couches were burned across the campus vicinity — including on State Street and at Newtown Crossing apartments.

The William T. Young Library, an area usually reserved for studying, saw an estimated 500 students pile into its lobby.

“We are the Payback Cats,” Deuser proclaimed, joining the mass exodus of people leaving the library to head to South Campus. “We are going to ride this payback thing into the National Championship.”

From South Campus, many students flooded the various streets blocked off by police.

“This is why we are the best fans in America,” undeclared freshman Clay Marrillia said. “This is the Big Blue Nation.”

Students hope to again emerge from their dorms in celebration after the UConn game.

“This is a scene of what’s to come,” computer science sophomore Wes Eklund said.

Restaurant scene

Buffalo Wild Wings was a popular destination for many Wildcat fans. According to staff members, the restaurant reached capacity, forcing patrons away even an hour before the game began.

It was estimated that more than 350 people watched the game at that venue.

Other nearby restaurants, including Harry’s and Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, were packed with screaming UK supporters as well.

North/West Campus

Honking horns and the “C-A-T-S” cheer reverberated through the streets on North Campus as fans celebrated the UK victory over North Carolina.

“I feel like $10 million,” junior James Bishop said, yelling and encouraging others to join his group on the way to State Street. “I want to burn a couch, I want to burn everything. I want to light the city on fire.”

On Montmullin Street, that is exactly what celebrating fans did. The street’s residents congregated outside to applaud a bonfire in the middle of the road.

A Ford F-150 added fuel to the fire when it sped past and a recliner chair was pushed out of the bed. As it hit the ground, the chair was swarmed and pushed into the fire.

“Damn, it feels good to be a wildcat,” Kendall O’Keefe, an education junior, said. “I have all this trust in my team. I wasn’t worried a minute (during the game).”

Soon after the recliner lit up, a fire truck squeezed its way down the street, followed by a cop car.

Onlookers snapped pictures as the firefighters put out the celebration fire.

Lt. Cameron Hudson of the Lexington Fire Department said this fire was the second one put out in 15 minutes, and that the combination of people drinking and dancing was a bad mix.

“I understand everyone is having fun,” Hudson said, “but people can get hurt.”

He said, however, that he was not annoyed and that probably some of the members in his squad used to do that too.

Hudson said that the fire department was also celebrating.

“Oh yeah, we watched the game. We were like, ‘We better get something to eat before the couch burning starts,’” he said.

Jeff Evans, a senior celebrating outside of Hugh Jass Burgers, said he felt amazing.

“Hitting our free throws in the last three minutes was the reason we won the game,” Evans said. “Great defense in our three-point percentage was great, thanks to the whole team.”

“Kentucky is winning like Charlie Sheen,” Ian Anderson, a kinesiology junior said. “I felt like Charlie Sheen.”