Where's the Party? Dueling Reunions in Jacksonville and Daytona Beach Leaving Black College Students Perplexed Plans
Bruce, Orlando De, The Florida Times Union
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
The separate events have some college students in a tizzy. They
are unclear about where to go, whom to call and what the events
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
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
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. …