More than 20,000 people will be in Rupp Arena Tuesday afternoon to welcome home the University of Kentucky men's basketball team and celebrate Kentucky's 8th national title.
Carl Hall, director of arena management at Rupp, said 20,500 free tickets were issued for Tuesday's event. The bulk of those were gone by 11 a.m.
Fans were lined up by the hundreds early Tuesday to get the free tickets.
First in line was Barry Grigsby, 49, a construction worker from Winchester. He went to Rupp Arena at halftime during Monday night's game.
"I knew they were going to win," Grigsby said. "They were head and shoulders above anyone else in the tournament. To me, they were like an NBA team.
"It's been 14 years (since the last championship title) and a long time coming," Grigsby said. "The monkey's off our back for a little while."
Katie Kellum, 21, of Lexington stood in line with Webster, a 9-year-old retired and rescued greyhound. The dog is nicknamed "Anthony Grayvis" because he is long and limber like freshman UK player and Naismith Award winner Anthony Davis.
Kellum, who had been in line since the end of Monday night's game, said she wanted to get tickets because "it's a big deal for me. It's my first national championship.
"This just shows that a university can do good things for the community, bring us together and bring home a win."
Donald Wilson, 50, of Lexington said the championship title was "better than a well-cooked steak."
His brother, David Wilson, 47, of Winchester, said he liked the youth of the team.
"They fought through every diversity," David Wilson said. "They went up against Louisville twice. They went up against Kansas twice. They went up against Indiana twice. They matured. They grew up right in front of us."
Wrapped up in a white blanket to ward off the chill, Melissa Thompson, 26, of Columbus, Ga., was in Kentucky for spring break. She is originally from Ashland.
"I have dreamed of seeing a (championship) banner going up since I was in sixth grade," Thompson said. "It's finally here."
Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety