The most controversial event in a party city of Daytona Beach has practically died. The trickle, that is left is not viewed as an event any more, it does not scare people, create gridlocks and cause the city to hire additional police force from all over the State of Florida.
Black College Reunion (BCR) came as a very small group of people, like last year or maybe even less.
The city really struggled between political correctness, and was careful not to be sued, which was always in the air, and the tone of this the most rowdy event. I came to the area in 1998 at the peak of BCR. Living on Beachside during the event was a challenge due to traffic problems, bridges closings, and mostly because of the utmost disrespect of the event goers.
I experienced the event firsthand, working for the Hotel and standing behind the front desk, and then as a security for Black Entertainment Television (BET), staging widely popular concert series. The former mayor tried to run the already deflating event under the 'It's all about respect' motto, but it was blatant disrespect that tinted the event.
While police would cite a murder, and injured officers, I mostly remember lines and lines of cars, scantily clad females, participants stopping in the middle of the road to hug, stopping several cars on the major intersection and completely paralyzing the traffic, and just sitting around enjoying the power of the disrespect. How about sex in the bed of the truck in the middle of the day right on the bridge, while the crowd is watching and clapping. This is not what I heard, this is what I watched, and not once.
During this 3-day event the hotels rates were the highest. People paid $220 a night (vs. $49/night) for a crappy rooms, all cash, no credit cards. You could see the characters that you thought you can only see in the movies, and at the same time you could see the quietest girls from religious schools. There was a controversy even in the name. It was the first time in the USA that I had 'college' kids who could not sign their names and just crossed in place of the signature. Even local all black college distanced itself from the event.
A lot of people compared BCR with Spring Break, and, I think, rightfully so. If you pack over 100,000 white kids in just 3 days, instead of 3 weeks, you would most probably have the same rowdy event. The City did not hesitate much with the Spring Breakers, where you see predominantly white kids. Obviously there were no looming lawsuits, so the City managed to stop MTV from coming, and the numbers dwindled immediately.
This was the second year, when BET was not coming. It is not clear whether the city did the same thing they did with Spring Break, or BET decided to move to South Florida, but their departure deflated the event from a 100,000 people to only 10,000 at best if not less this year.
I also think that there is a consensus that this is great for the area. If the city has nothing to do with killing this event as they claim, then they scored big with something they had nothing to do with.
As usual, this is just my opinion. As for the numbers used in the post, I did not count participants, and used the numbers quoted by others. Hey, I do not want to bear a dubious distinction to be the last person sued by the dying event goers, or promoters.
Jon Zolsky, you Daytona Real Estate Connection