DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - A little boy’s dreams came true Saturday morning as crews imploded a landmark metro Atlanta building.
The old Executive Park Hotel came down to make room for Children’s Health Care of Atlanta’s administrative campus. The 19-story building sat along North Druid Hills Road just off Interstate 85 in DeKalb County.
DJ Pitts, 4, a patient at the hospital, pushed the button to implode the building while wearing his superhero cape Saturday morning.
Several other superheroes joined DJ as he prepared for his big moment.
Six months ago, Pitts accidentally ingested engine cleaner that ate through his esophagus and stomach. He spent weeks undergoing surgeries at CHOA. While there, he felt better wearing a superhero cape, and it wasn’t long before he was inspiring others.
When it came time to demolish the building, the staff at CHOA came up with the idea of “Cape Day.”
“He's very excited. Like when we pulled up to the site and showed him the building he just started smiling from ear to ear,” said his mother, Natoya Ruff.
“He's using his superpower strength,” said Steve Lange with CHOA. “He's going to help us blast down the building. He's going to push the plunger that signals the demo of the building.”
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>What success looks like. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CapeDayATL?src=hash">#CapeDayATL</a> <a href="http://t.co/M84drVsC9I">pic.twitter.com/M84drVsC9I</a></p>— Children's (@childrensatl) <a href="https://twitter.com/childrensatl/status/531056605140635648</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Crews placed dozens of charges on six different floors to make the old hotel first come straight down, then topple just a bit toward I-85 to cut down on the dust and debris field.
"What we want the dust to do is come down then just go up and stay kinda right where it is," said Barry Roberts with Atlanta Demolition.
Crews say the implosion went off as planned.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>RAW VIDEO: Crews implode 19-story DeKalb County building: <a href="http://t.co/kZVTYEe2Oo">http://t.co/kZVTYEe2Oo</a> <a href="http://t.co/9r9lMSOnvh">pic.twitter.com/9r9lMSOnvh</a></p>— WSB-TV (@wsbtv) <a href="https://twitter.com/wsbtv/status/531058602254282752</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Hundreds of people gathered to watch the implosion Saturday. For many, the building held special memories.
"It's really kinda sad because it's a memory for us," said Diane Tache, who says she met her husband of 30 years in the building.
Since it opened in 1971, the hotel had also served as a conference center and then a training facility before it was eventually abandoned.
Officials say it will take another two months to clean up all the debris. They will then hand over the cleaned out site to CHOA.