Believe it!

Believe it!

City celebrates IU reaching final

By John Meunier, Stacy Kess and Paula Freund, Hoosier Times

March 31, 2002

Indiana coach Mike Davis gives forward Jeff Newton a big hug after Newton scored a career-high 19 points to lead the Hoosiers to a 73-64 win over Oklahoma in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship semifinal game at the Final Four in Atlanta Saturday. Staff photo by Chris Howell
From the Mar. 31, 2002 Hoosier Times

Bloomington police officer Jim Haverstock stood by his squad car in a protective helmet listening to the last few minutes of Indiana University’s victory over Oklahoma Saturday night.

As the shouting fans began to pour out into the streets a block to the north of where he was helping blockade an intersection, he smiled.

“Looks like we are going to be busy Monday night,” he said.

Within minutes of game’s end, the streets downtown were filled with whooping, running and high-fiving fans. They stampeded down Kirkwood Avenue to the street’s intersection with Dunn Street.

Liz Scarborough shouted into a cell phone in the middle of the street.

“We won,” she said. “I’m going to Atlanta. I’m going. How can I not go?”

In the middle of the milling throng she beamed with pride for her team.

“I’m not even from Indiana,” she said. “I’ve never been so proud to be a part of Indiana.”

The very heart of the celebration was a mass of humanity between four electrical poles at Kirkwood and Dunn.

Fifty yards back, the crowd was thin enough for young children and their parents to watch the goings-on.

Michaella Thiel sat on her father’s shoulders and shouted down to her mother.

“Mommy, are we going to stay out all night?” she said.

The family had staked out a seat at the City Grille at 11 a.m.

“They were excited about it,” said her mother, Wendy Thiel. “They were asking about it every quarter. ‘Can we go out into the street and party?'”

A half-block from Michaella’s perch, the scene was anything but family friendly.

A mosh pit roiled in the intersection of Kirkwood and Dunn. Women were boosted overhead as they rode a wave of hands, until they fell.

A fight spilled out of the side door of Kilroy’s.

About 30 minutes after the game, Bloomington Mayor John Fernandez stood back a safe distance, observing the scene with some of the more than 150 police officers in the downtown area. At that point, there had been some property damage and a few injuries, although he said ambulances could not hope to get close enough to reach the people. He knew there could be more to come.

“It’s early,” Fernandez said.

Bloomington police Capt. Mike Diekhoff said the celebration was larger than last week after Indiana beat Kent State.

“There are a heckuva lot more people and they’re a lot rowdier,” he said. By 11:30 p.m., there had been only a handful of arrests for alcohol violations and all reported injuries appeared to be minor, he said.

A city police officer stood on top of the Greetings building during the evening and videotaped the actions of people in the crowd.

Local fire departments also prepared as the game ended for the onslaught of calls, which began with the traditional general building fire alarm at IU’s Forest Quad.

Active alarms soon began going off around the downtown area. Firefighters responded to reports of burning couches, recliners, trees and other items that had been set on fire. Vandalism to trees was widespread along Kirkwood Avenue.

Street signs were torn down by gleeful revelers, some of whom attempted to carry them away from the downtown area. Several celebrants reportedly engaged officers in foot pursuits.

Although authorities tried to prevent people from climbing the light poles at Kirkwood and Dunn, many shimmied up and hung from the utility wires.

A topless woman was one of many who tried unsuccessfully to climb the pole. Although she didn’t make it, she drew hoots of appreciation from the mob.

Luke Szafranski slid down the pole at the southwest corner of that intersection into the arms of friends and fellow IU fans.

Why did he climb it?

“I just wanted to show support for the team,” he said, regaining his footing on solid ground.

The 19-year-old IU sophomore from Chicago said his excitement prompted the acrobatics.

He looked around at the crowd, packed shoulder to shoulder around him in the intersection.

“Miles and miles of fans down Kirkwood,” he said. “I wouldn’t have believed it in the beginning of the year, but I believe it now.”

Police plan to remove the lights at the intersection before Monday night.

A celebrating Indiana fan dangles dangerously from a power cable above Kirkwood Avenue in Bloomington following the Hoosiers’ victory over the Sooners Saturday in a semifinal game at the Final Four in Atlanta. Staff photo by Jeremy Hogan
From the Mar. 31, 2002 Hoosier Times

The celebration branched in all directions from the Kirkwood epicenter. To the east, at Showalter Fountain on IU’s campus, students gathered around the fountain despite police officers bearing shields and other protective gear.

Raj Joseph, a 19-year-old freshman from St. Louis, made his way to the fountain first from his dorm.

“It just seemed like tradition, what people are doing,” he said.

To the north, fans held a parade of joy on North Walnut Street and North College Avenue.

Traffic was hardly moving an hour after the game, but people were having a blast as drivers honked their horns and passengers stuck their bodies out windows and howled in celebration.

Pedestrians sprinted down the middle of the street, yelling and giving high-fives to drivers. Three gray-haired fans stood in the back of a moving pickup truck, waving and shouting to pedestrians.

From an apartment in the Princess Theatre building, a resident projected the Kansas-Maryland game – with an image about 30 feet high – on a wall across the street.

On North College, a man dressed in a Santa Claus suit yelled at passing cars.

“Merry Christmas, we did it!”