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Fans on Kirkwood celebrate win, spill into streets

POSTED AT 01:23 AM ON Dec. 12, 2011  (UPDATED AT 10:21 PM ON Feb. 9, 2012)

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Silence.

In the last five seconds of the IU vs. Kentucky game Dec. 10, the intersection of Kirkwood Avenue and Dunn Street was empty save for a few fans scanning the TVs at Kilroy’s on Kirkwood as they passed.

One girl watched through the bar’s side window from atop a guy’s shoulders. Not a word was spoken. Not a cheer was heard as the two waited for the play that would bring tears of victory or defeat.

Then, a muffled cry. Slow-motion drinks flying through the air. Two people running out the bar’s side door, their cheers filling the silent street.

The Hoosiers did the impossible. They beat the No. 1 team in the nation. Celebration couldn’t begin to describe what took place next.

“This is the resurgence of Indiana basketball,” IU fan Zac Muller said, wearing a Santa hat and red Indiana sweatshirt. “This is Indiana, rising like a burning phoenix out of the ashes and stomping on UK really hard.

“This whole time, the only thing we had to cling to was Tom Crean bringing this program out of the crater that we were in and out of the ashes,” he added. “And he rocked the house, man.”

IU and Bloomington police were prepared for the celebration at Kirkwood.

“We expected and hoped we’d win the game,” IUPD Chief Keith Cash said. “We anticipated there would be spontaneous gatherings.”

Neither department made any arrests, but they set up extra patrols at the Showalter Fountain and at Kirkwood.

Zac Smith was working upstairs at Nick’s English Hut when the bar exploded in cheers. He had been there for the 2002 win against then-No. 1 Duke and said he hadn’t seen a reaction as big until Dec. 10.

“Are you kidding me? It was awesome,” he said. “I thought the building was going to shake down.”

Nick’s usually has a full staff for every home game, and the night of Dec. 10 was no exception. There was extra beer, extra everything, Smith said.

“It was business as usual for us,” he said.

Dylan Swift, a Nick’s employee and former IU baseball player, was in the kitchen downstairs by the main bar.

“The first thing was everybody started jumping, all in unison from the main bar to the back room to the kitchen,” he said. “You couldn’t control it.”

Swift said he tried to keep working, but it was impossible. People weren’t ordering, anyway. For the next 20 or 25 minutes, Swift said no orders were placed.

“I don’t think I got to leave till 3 or 3:30 a.m.,” he said. “I usually get off at 1 a.m. It was unreal. I’ve never seen Nick’s so dirty with beer on the floor. We were cooking food until the last minute when we had to shut down. Officially, we were closed, but on a night like last night, you couldn’t get all the people out.”

In the first 15 minutes following the game, groups of people came from all directions, gathering outside Kilroy’s. The rush followed a little later as the fans from Assembly Hall converged on the area.

“People are gonna get in the streets soon,” one fan said to his friend. “I can feel it. The streets is gonna happen.”

It started with short-lived mobbing in the intersection, groups running into the middle of the street from the four corners of Dunn and Kirkwood, jumping around, then running back to different corners.

Two men carried around two other fans on their shoulders, circling the intersection between mobs. Then, people began spilling into the street, standing to the side as a few fans directed traffic through.

But when the song “This is Indiana” began playing out of windows in The Rubicon apartments, fans streamed to the sound, the streets no longer safe for car travel. Police blocked Kirkwood intersections at Indiana Avenue and Grant Street. Swift went to the Nick’s roof with his phone camera.

“We got pictures of all the people dancing,” he said. “One of our co-workers had her car parked out front, and she had to go outside and stop people from flipping it over.”
It was a silver Infiniti SUV parked across from Nick’s. It had already been trampled — its roof caved in, hood scuffed with shoe marks, windshield cracked. About an hour into the celebration, the crowd wanted to see it flipped.

“Flip that car, flip that car, flip that car,” they chanted as people made a half-circle around the SUV.

Three fans did as requested. They bent next to the front of the car and started pushing its side, rocking it back and forth before a girl ran up and yelled, “Stop!”

She distracted them for a minute before they began again. After the second
attempt, another girl came out of the crowd.

Bloomington Police Lt. Faron Lake was one of the officers who responded to Kirkwood following the win. It took the police some time to clear the area, Lake said, but there were no major problems while he was there.

“We had the music shut off to disperse the crowd and removed people from the top of vehicles,” Lake said. “Then we had the vehicles leave the area.”

Bloomington Police Sgt. Shane Rasche said there were no mass arrests as a result of the celebration.

Crystal Orly, a Nick’s employee, had no idea what was happening. She thought the screaming and chanting outside was in celebration; she didn’t realize her car had been destroyed.

“I got out there and realized that my car was being rocked back and forth, and apparently people had been standing on the front of my car before I got out there,” she said. “I had to prove to the individuals that it was my vehicle so they wouldn’t topple it over. And people were booing me because they were so caught up in the vandalism.”

Orly stood in front of her car before a police officer approached her and asked her to move it. The Infiniti groaned to a start then hissed as Orly backed it through the crowd. In front of her, a fan in a red sweatshirt motioned for her to back up.

“My first thought was to calm people and let them know there is a person behind this vandalism being affected by all of this,” Orly said. “It kind of blew my mind that I had to prove that it was my vehicle before they would stop.”

Max McCombs, Jake New and Michael Auslen contributed to this report.

 

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