Like thousands of other young blacks who converged on Atlanta on Friday, Timothy Eleby just wanted to have fun.
“I’m here to take pictures of the girls and just have a good time,” said Eleby, a 23-year-old student from Washington University in St. Louis.
The students began arriving Thursday for this year’s edition of the huge spring street fest called Freanik, ignoring dire warnings about traffic gridlock and violence.
More than 200,000 people, mostly college students, were expected in Atlanta through the weekend.
On Friday, cars from New York, Michigan and Indiana already were crawling down Peachtree Street blaring music as their passengers videotaped the scene and yelled to revelers hanging out near the curb.
For the most part, the crowds are “very orderly,” Police Chief Beverly Harvard said Friday afternoon.
The rite of spring began in 1982 as a picnic held by the D.C. Metro Club, a group of Washington natives who attended predominantly black colleges in Atlanta.
It has grown in recent years despite the city’s attempt to discourage it.