On the evening of Dec. 18, 1947, the University Service Plants caught fire. In those days the offices of the University Service Plants stood in the 100 block of East Franklin Street, close to the Porthole restaurant. The Chapel Hill Weekly covered the fire the next day and reported that a crowd gathered to watch the fire department put out the fire. What was not mentioned in the report was that the occasion provided the tinder to ignite tremendous excitement in the crowd and the opportunity to blow off steam built up during final examinations. As I recall the event, several hundred students milled around the site and began chanting, "Our town is red hot, BEAT DUKE!" As the blaze was extinguished, students returned to their residences. I had never seen such excitement. It was not until 10 years had passed that I saw another celebration on Franklin Street.Most historians of Franklin Street celebrations will refer to those that followed national basketball championship victories from 1957 to the present time. However, as an undergraduate at Carolina during the years following World War II, I saw no street demonstrations of college spirit. The success of Carolina football and the famed Charlie "Choo Choo" Justice and his teammates led to many spirited pep rallies, but, to the best of my recollection, no Franklin Street celebrations occurred. The veterans of the war were a fairly serious group of students and not usually prone to outbursts of exuberance that spilled out over the bounds of the campus.Aside from various parades prior to the annual Duke-Carolina football games, various town-sponsored festivals, e.g., Apple Chill and Halloween, and the civil rights demonstrations of the 1960s and anti-war demonstrations of the 1970s, basketball victories gave rise to the most spontaneous outbursts of student enthusiasm.Little has been reported about the celebration following Carolina's 1924 national championship, but there seems to be no doubt that the celebration following the team's Southern Conference championship victory was the first of those that followed in later years. Led by Jack Cobb and Cart Carmichael, Carolina's first All-America, the UNC basketball team had won the 1923 conference championship. But the 1924 team completed the season undefeated and was named national champion by the Helms Foundation. At any rate, news of the Southern Conference championship victory aroused sleepy students who gathered at the Old Well to sing songs and yell cheers. Their enthusiasm heightened, and leaders of the group called for a march to Durham. So, led by the band, several hundred students marched the 10 miles to Durham. Once there, they made their way to the home of Jack Cobb and roused Jack's father, who joined in the cheers and singing. Then they moved on to Cart Carmichael's home, where his father responded in like fashion. Finally, most students found their way back to Chapel Hill by means of several trucks and cars.The first spontaneous mass student celebration took place following Carolina's NCAA basketball championship victory in 1957. Throughout the season students and fans followed the Tar Heels on the radio. As victory followed victory, enthusiasm and excitement rose. By the time the team won the ACC Tournament championship and went on to the NCAA tournament, the Tar Heels were undefeated and anticipation was high. Two triple-overtime games concluded the tournament, the first against Michigan State and the final one against highly favored Kansas, led by the highly respected giant, Wilt "The Stilt" Chamberlain. When the game ended, students turned out en mass on Franklin Street. As a young student affairs administrator at the time, I was quoted by The Daily Tar Heel as saying, "On the whole, I thought the crowd was well-behaved and orderly in spite of the tremendous enthusiasm following the victory. I was proud," I went on, "of the way the Carolina students demonstrated their team support and felt it was a real credit to the university." In hindsight, it is clear that a new tradition had been established, but, as the years passed, new wrinkles were added to those events.Several street celebrations followed in the ensuing years. Following a victory over Davidson in 1969 that led to the Final Four, students draped trees with toilet paper at the Old Well and then on Franklin Street. From there they marched to the president's house and to Chancellor J. Carlyle Sitterson's residence, where he led the cheering. Again, in 1977, following the loss to Marquette in the NCAA final, thousands lined Franklin Street where, the previous night following the defeat of Nevada-Las Vegas there was a large celebration. After the Final Four win at the NCAA tournament in 1981 "one unfortunate couple in a green Buick became owners of a blue Buick, courtesy of four or five paint-equipped fans. Streets turned blue, parking meters turned blue, even students turned blue."In 1982, after the national championship victory, another huge turnout took place. Hijinks became even more outrageous. One student even brought his pet boa constrictor to join in the festivities. In 2001, following a win over Duke, the celebration got out of hand when thousands flocked to Franklin. Unrestrained revelers turned over a car, left on the street from earlier in the day. The last big celebration occurred in 2005 following the NCAA championship game. Tens of thousands turned out on Franklin Street to celebrate the Tar Heels' victory that night. Given the success of coach Roy Williams' Tar Heels in this decade, it is likely that there will be more Franklin Street celebrations to come. A lot has changed since the march to Durham in 1924 and the celebration of 1957. This March, we will see what direction Franklin Street celebrations will take in the future for Chapel Hill historians to describe.Parker Page, a former Carolina student, has chronicled Carolina basketball victory celebrations in a 2004 honors thesis written for the history department. His research has provided much of the material for this article.