Where's the Party? Dueling Reunions in Jacksonville and Daytona Beach Leaving Black College Students Perplexed Plans

Article excerpt

Some students who attend historically African-American colleges

say they are confused about where to travel next month for an

annual spring weekend party in Florida.

Jacksonville or Daytona Beach?

Most veterans of the event say they will stick with tradition

and go to Daytona Beach, where the Black College Reunion was

held last year and is set this year for April 12-14.

But newcomers say Jacksonville is their choice. The Jam Splash

Black College Reunion will be held in Jacksonville for the first

time this year -- on the same weekend as the Daytona Beach

reunion.

The separate events have some college students in a tizzy. They

are unclear about where to go, whom to call and what the events

are.

Some say they'll skip them both, and attend the Kappa Beach

Party set for April 6-7 in Galveston, Texas, or hold out

for the Freaknik festival April 19-21 in Atlanta.

Students and campus administrators say neither Jacksonville nor

Daytona Beach has advertised events in their college newspapers

or campus bulletin boards, and that has kept them guessing about

travel arrangements.

Last year, the festival drew 125,000 people in Daytona Beach

over three days.

Dichelle Turner, a second-year graduate student at Howard

University in Washington, D.C., is a receptionist for her

college newspaper. She said a promoter of the Daytona Beach

reunion inquired about putting an ad in her newspaper -- but no

ad was published.

"Someone came with a flyer wanting to put it in the paper in

January about it being in Daytona," she said. "I guessed the

price was too high because it wasn't in the paper. This is the

first time I had heard about it being in Jacksonville. It's not

being publicized.

Students say news about the reunions has generally been

spreading by word-of-mouth among Florida and Georgia natives,

and sometimes not reaching the masses. But students who are up

on the scoop say regardless of the confusion, they know where

they want to go.

Some say they're drawn to Daytona Beach not only for its popular

beaches but because plans for reunion events seem to be more

solid. But others say they are set on Jacksonville, simply to

try something new and to be at least 80 miles closer to Atlanta

for the pre-Freaknik parties.

"Bump Daytona," said Teria Coverson, a junior at

Alabama State University in Montgomery, who said the crowd

wasn't welcomed last year in Daytona Beach. "Daytona doesn't

want us there. The reception wasn't good, so I don't want to go

back. I'm going to Jacksonville. When the party is over, I'm

getting on the highway to Atlanta."

The city of Daytona Beach closed bridges, Coverson said, as a

form of crowd control. Suzanne Heddy, vice president of

special events and tourism for the Daytona Beach Chamber of

Commerce, said the bridge is raised to prevent an event at the

beach from becoming overcrowded.

But Merissa Green, a freshman at Florida A&M University in

Tallahassee, said she is going back home to Daytona Beach. A

staff writer for the FAMUAN campus newspaper, Green said

many students from her school will return to Daytona Beach

because Jacksonville isn't known for its beaches. …