No signs of Freaknik so far, but officials keep up guard

Freaknik 2010 may be off to a sluggish start, but authorities in every metro Atlanta county are preparing for the worst.

They've  gathered at Atlanta Public Safety Headquarters downtown to "speak with one voice" regarding Freaknik, said Atlanta Police spokesman James Polite Friday afternoon.

"Anyone you can name, they're in there," he said of the joint operations center set up to deal with the black college spring break festival. That includes fire and medical units from counties including Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb and Clayton and the local universities, Polite said.

"Every commander in place now is a veteran of the prior [Freakniks]," he said, vowing there won't be a repeat of the traffic jams that accompanied the mid-199s festivals. "We may have more highways and by-ways now, but we also have much better technology," he said. "Basically we believe the mayor's message has gotten through."

There were few signs that revelers were arriving in town. Back in Freaknik's heyday of the mid-1990s, the streets of Atlanta usually filled up by Friday afternoon with  thousands of party-goers. In perhaps another sign of more hype than reality, Freaknik didn't seem to be creating much of an Internet buzz. The term Freaknik was not trending on either Google or Twitter.

Despite the quiet streets, Clark Atlanta University stationed officers at campus entrances checking ID's of people driving onto campus.

Downtown streets, meanwhile, remained empty through mid-afternoon. There's no evidence -- yet -- that  a party's about to break out.

In DeKalb County Thursday night, red, blue and green neon lights welcomed partygoers at the The Atrium. But the crowd was small when the AJC stopped by to check on a pre-Freaknik event.

Six DeKalb County police cruisers were spotted in the parking lot on Memorial Drive around 9:30 p.m.

"We're making sure nothing goes wrong here," Sgt. L. Baker told the AJC.

About 30 cars were in the parking lot of the venue, which hosts a variety of events ranging from concerts to birthday parties.

City officials say they have not issued permits for any outdoor events associated with any Freaknik organizers. Clayton County officials have also announced they will take a hard line against any public partying.

Atlanta is bracing for as many as 300,000 people to attend several other events this weekend, such as the Atlanta Dogwood Festival, the Sweetwater 420 Festival, a robotics competition, a Bon Jovi concert, the Hawks-Bucks playoff opener and an Atlanta Braves weekend series.

On Wednesday, Mayor Kasim Reed said the nonsense from the past, such as public nudity, would not be tolerated. Police and firefighters will be out in force, city officials have promised.