Congratulations All Around!

How 'bout those Heels!  They brought home the national championship and there seems to be a lot of pride all over in their success.  We should be fired up over their success, as there aren't a lot of things making people happy these days.

We should also congratulate our town leaders and employees for all of their planning and hard work to ensure that there was a safe environment for all of the celebrations, and all of their hard work to quickly clean up the town.  From news reports, there were only a couple of arrests and a few injuries (can someone explain the "thrill" of jumping over a fire?). Sounds to me that a good plan was well executed and a lot of restraint was exercised by our local sworn officers and those who came to support them.



We witnessed one of the "W. Franklin St" signs being carried away.  It was quite the achievement for the young men who were obviously very proud until they ran right into a line of Chapel Hill's finest.  The police handled it very well.  The sign went to the side of the road (where it was subject to many photographs, including mine).  The kids went on their way.  Definitely one of those "avoid negative confrontations" moments and kept things pleasant enough that we felt comfortable being there with our kids.

I hope that there was no damage to the (expensive?) new LED streetlamps?  It took me a while to grok that when the town announced "LED streetlights" they were talking about lamp posts, not traffic signals.While we're out replacing vandalized signs, how about fixing those "no bicycling on sidewalk" signs that are missing the "on sidewalk" part? (or just take them down altogether.)

Did the cops really go light on the crazy and destructive stuff because they love the madcap college kids? Or was there a consensus that Chapel hill did not need a PR black eye along with a  national championship PR bonanza?

In today's CHH, Editor Dan Way writes his column on this issue and how unsafe fire jumping is.  He quotes Chief Brian Curan and Fire Chief Dan Jones on how they attempt to contain the problem that truly is a "risk-reward" situation.  Balance is the answer, not fear of "a PR black eye." I think that they are addressing this dilemma the right way.

 "I'm not going to make any representations to anyone that we are guaranteeing anyone's safety in these environments because it's inherently dangerous," Chapel Hill Police Chief Brian Curran told me. "I certainly don't want people going downtown thinking they've got all of these officers here so I'm safe . . . We're outnumbered 100-1." And that's why the party crowd is able to get away with mischief and misdemeanors that ordinarily would be cause for court. "You run into a risk-reward situation where, if you try to get through a crowd that's that dense, you risk hurting more people or getting hurt yourself," Curran said. Chapel Hill Fire Chief Dan Jones had similar thoughts, saying his firefighters don't want to create hostility by wading into a thick crowd to extinguish the fires the fans so ferociously want to see, and that they risk physical harm in doing so. "There's all kinds of things going on in that crowd. When you send your officers into that, you're going to create your own crowd rush," Curran said. "Is what you're trying to do to mitigate the crowd worth the damage you're going to do going in?" It's an untenable dilemma, Curran admits, "We would prefer that 30,000 didn't go out to the street." An alternative mass celebration is needed in an area that's not enclosed like the downtown venue, he said. "One of the things that's scary about a big crowd like that is if there's a shot fired or somebody throws a firecracker and there's a crowd rush," it's possible for serious injury, even death, Curran acknowledged. "And when there's a crowd rush you just have to go with it, you have no choice in the matter. . . You've got 15 or 20 of these fires going on and if the crowd moves you don't have any option but to get pushed into it."

Saw a police car outside Univ. Mall on Monday afternoon, with two officers munching on sandwiches.  On impulse, I wished them "good luck tonight," and they rolled their eyes and said thanks.  I'm sure they root for the Tar Heels, but that's got to be an ambivalent thing for such officers.Have you seen the DTH's timelapse video of the festivities?'m worried about the tree in the foreground, but the bonfires create an interesting light-show pattern, if you don't think about possible hazards.)

Mark M.'s "madcap" description says it all.  Chapel Hill Fire & Police do their best to limit most dangerous behavior; from my vantage point (the couch), street-sign surfing looked like the most dangerous activity, with bonfire-jumping coming in second.  But I'd recommend an absolute ban on jubilant fire-setting as a common-sense restriction.  Chief Jones really should not allow it.  Easy for me to say ...  

I have always wonder why UNC does not setup a bonfire in advance like Duke has done? They don't jump over the ones at Duke unless they are superman.The only answer for the lack of UNC planning is the fire and stuff ends up OFF campus. Then again maybe its not a lack of planning.


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