Atlanta

Celebrating 75: A party like no other – a look back at Freaknik

ATLANTA — It was a wild and loose party like no other. If you lived in Atlanta in the 90′s, then you will definitely remember Freaknik.

“It was women all over the place,” Walter Jordan said, who attended Freaknik.

“Forget Panama City and their spring break. Freaknik in Atlanta, Georgia!” former city detention officer Bruce Griggs said.

KISS 104.1′s Frank Ski remembers attending Freaknik back then.

“Freaknik made Atlanta what it is today,” Ski said. “I was bad back then.”

Jordan said a lot of people were bad back then.

“(There) was a lot of things that we did that we shouldn’t have. I mean we blocked -- we gridlocked the streets for miles,” Jordan said.

Some 200,000 to 300,00 people arrived every third week in April and caused chaos and mayhem.

People parked in the streets and stopped traffic on highways as they drank, danced on cars and participated in lewd activity.

Emergency crews couldn’t get through.

CELEBRATING 75 YEARS:

“You had fire trucks who were on the way to a fire, and it burned down because of Freaknik,” Griggs said.

Women were being assaulted.

“If you go back and look at the stats, the Grady Rape Crisis Center numbers went off the chain,” said former Atlanta City Councilman Derrick Boazman.

Businesses and homeowners complained about the lewdness, loudness and loose libidos.

“They were the No. 1 complainers. That’s what really brought it to an end,” Boazman said.

But Freaknik didn’t start out this way.

Sharon Toomer was there back in 1982 when members of the Atlanta University Center’s DC Metro Club organized the first Freaknik.

“It was really a great time for us to gather and just enjoy each other,” Toomer said.

It was a small celebration for HBCU students who couldn’t go home for spring break.

Then, through word of mouth, it kept growing.

“Uncle Luke mentioned it. That blew it up,” Toomer said.

People from all over the country showed up.

“You started to get 50-year-old men coming from Arkansas to see girls’ lewd activity on the street,” Griggs said.

“Smash and grabs begin to happen. We began to see people get shot,” Boazman said.

Toomer said the criminal element helped destroy Freaknik, but she also blames city leaders.

Bill Campbell was the mayor at the time.

“They were so committed to ‘this was just a headache,’ that they weren’t handling what always became a crisis for them,” Toomer said.

Boazman said the city -- and Campbell -- tried its best to get Freankik under control.

“If you ask me, my autopsy report on it, I’m glad that it ended because it was very dangerous,” Boazman said.

Freaknik began to fizzle out in the late 90s when the city closed highway exits and re-routed traffic.

Jordan said Freaknik had so much potential, but so much went wrong.

“The greatest show on Earth. It was absolutely amazing,” Jordan said.

Promoters tried to restart the Freaknik in the spring of 2010.

But people said it wasn’t the same because of the heavy police presence and there wasn’t much to do.

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