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Game ends, and then: pandemonium

Published January 10, 2007


11:55 P.M.: The game ends. The University of Florida Gators are the 2006 national champions, and by a wide margin. Thousands of students are running down University Avenue.

"We kicked their butts!" yells Jessica Greer, 19, a pre-med student from Brevard County. Her long hair is pulled up in a cone, blue on one side and orange on the other.

"Oh my God, it hasn't set in! We're making history. They doubted us, but we made it. I'm climbing a light post tonight."

MIDNIGHT: A dozen students pose with a motorcycle cop in the middle of University Avenue. Police are everywhere, on motorcycles, on horseback, in cars, on foot. Helicopters are flying overheard, and the streets are filled with the blue and red lights of police sirens. A fire truck roars down the avenue. Students cheer.

"This is the most amazing experience of my life!" student Ryan Shore, 19, of Stuart shouts as he runs past a police officer.

12:12 A.M.: Anna Gabrenya, 22, and her friend Mina Bishop, 21, are finishing off a Papa John's pizza as they stand on the sidewalk along University Avenue.

Bishop has a class in nine hours, but she's not going. "Hell, no! We're not sleeping tonight."

12:15 A.M.: Fireworks fill the sky. Students are throwing toilet paper streamers and taking pictures of the celebration with their cell phones. Others are making videos for YouTube. A student tries to dial a number on his cell phone, but he's too drunk and he nearly falls over.

12:17 A.M.: A student who calls himself "Shaky Jake" climbs a lamppost. The police greased the poles before the game to prevent this, but he found a way.

12:21 A.M.: Students turn a Christmas tree into a bonfire in front of St. Augustine Catholic Church.

"This is a great idea!" says student Tyson Patterson of Boca Raton. "We're national champions!"

He throws an Ohio State jersey into the fire, and the crowd goes nuts.

12:33 A.M.: A police officer arrives. The bonfire is over.

12:36 A.M.: A male student, wearing only black boxer shorts, is standing on the roof of Goerings Book Store, a block off University Avenue. His friend falls into the trash bin below.

12:51 A.M.: At University Avenue and 13th Street, the main intersection of campus, there is gridlock. Students are packed into cars and trucks, honking horns as they dangle out the windows screaming "Go Gators!" and "It's great to be a Florida Gator."

12:59 A.M.: Gainesville resident Starr Davis brings her son KeyShay, 7, out to see the celebration even though it's long past his bedtime.

"I didn't know they were going to win," KeyShay says, sleepily.

1:01 A.M.: A line several people deep forms at the Kangaroo gas station convenience store across from campus. Heineken, Corona, and Coors Light are flying off the shelves.

1:07 A.M.: Two young men moon drivers pulling into the nearby Holiday Inn parking lot.

1:23 A.M.: Cathy Smith, 19, of Fort Lauderdale fuels up on McDonald's fries before going out to party some more.

She has a 5:30 p.m. class, but "I'll be okay by then," she says. She turns to her friends. "Who's paying for the next keg?"

2:01 A.M.: Along University Avenue, cars are at a standstill. A woman leans out of a white Envoy and vomits.

2:03 A.M.: A student with a bullhorn walks down University Avenue flirting with women in cars.

"Hey, hey," he says. "Why you spending the national championship alone?"

2: 25 A.M.: The brothers at Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity hoist a huge Gator flag up the pole outside their house. Victory.




[Last modified January 10, 2007, 05:13:45]

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