Freaknik bids for comeback, but does anyone care?

During its heyday in the mid-1990s, everyone had an opinion about Freaknik.

Nearly a generation later, there doesn't seem to be much interest in reviving the spring break street party, though a pair of promoters are trying to change that. They're planning competing events for April 15-17, though a spokesman with Mayor Kasim Reed's office said the city has received only one Freaknik-related permit application, for South Bend Park off Lakewood Avenue. That application is still under review.

No permits have been applied for at Grant Park, as has been rumored, spokesman Reese McCranie said. The deadline for applying is 30 days before the event so even if one was sought, "it would be too late," he said.

At its height in the mid-1990s, Freaknik drew 200,000 young revelers to the metro area. But by that decade's end, city officials, tired of the public lewdness and traffic snarls that had come to symbolize the event, formally withdrew the welcome mat.

"When I first got down to Atlanta, everyone said, ‘Wait 'til you experience Freaknik,' " said Tyler Gibson, a Morehouse College freshman. But he's heard little about this year's planned events. "There's no buzz. Not even from the upperclassmen who had brothers or sisters who've been before."

It's unclear who's promoting Freaknic Nation, which claims t0 be the official Freaknik celebration. Its competitor, iFREAKNiK2011, boasts of a more socially conscious gathering.

"The state of iFREAKNiK 2k11 is strong and in full action, we've incorporated multiple venues with various events and have promotional tours underway as you read this," wrote promoter DaVinci Barcello on the event's website. But still no permit.

Barcello, who could not be reached for comment, promoted last year's Freaknik-that-wasn't at Cleopas R. Johnson Park near downtown Atlanta.

"Freaknik is dead and they should stop trying to revive it," said Travis Hudgons, a 34-year-old photographer and veteran of Freaknik in its prime. "It was a different vibe back then. It wasn't forced. That's just how we rolled. They need to do their own thing and stop trying to relive a past that they were never part of."

Atlanta police don't expect either Freaknik party to conjure up memories of the 1990s.

"We're monitoring any sign of activity for these events," APD spokesman Carlos Campos said. "At this time, there are no overt indicators of any huge events. But we'll be prepared for whatever comes."

Campos said police know the event has the potential to disrupt the city. Traffic already will be thick that weekend with the annual Dogwood Festival at Piedmont Park.

And though there's little buzz within the Atlanta University Center, Gibson said, "there's still a mystique" about Freaknik.