By Joel Hall
Over the course of time, Forest Park has been many things to many people.
To Union forces invading the South during the Civil War, it was Quick Station. To railroad workers who developed the area as a wood-and-water stop along the Macon and Western Railroad, it was known as Stump Town.
The name of Clayton County's largest city has changed almost as much as the people and the landscape, before and after, it was incorporated in 1908. This week, Forest Park will celebrate officially turning 100 years old.
On Aug. 14, 15, and 16, the city will host its Centennial Celebration. The event will include three days of festivities at Starr Park, as well as the premiere of the city's temporary history museum, and a boot drive hosted by the fire department to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Corine Deyton, mayor of Forest Park, said that in the past, the city had spent some time "going in the wrong direction" in terms of development and employment. She said the Centennial Celebration is a chance to trumpet Forest Park's recent accomplishments, and its planned revitalization of its Main Street and the Fort Gillem area.
"It's an exciting time for our city," said Deyton. "It's a city that I have always been proud to call home. That's why we want to make sure this city will continue to go in the right direction."
The celebration will take place at Starr Park on Thursday and Friday, from 5-10 p.m., and Saturday, from 10 a.m., to 10 p.m.
Jazz guitarist, Sean Shuffler, kicks off the festivities on Thursday at 5 p.m., followed by a cake cutting, proclamations, and recognition of the city's older residents. The Jonesmen Quartet, a local gospel group based at Jones Memorial United Methodist Church, will perform for the remainder of the evening.
Friday events will include entertainment beginning at 5 p.m., including jazz by "A Touch of Class," as well as "The Tams," a popular '70s-era Rhythm and Blues band.
Saturday will include a variety of interactive performances, including line dancing, bluegrass and country music, and a mariachi band. On Saturday, from 10 a.m., to 3 p.m., a car show will take place at Baker Field, on the corner of Park Drive and Hines Ward Pass (named after Hines Ward, the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver who once played for Forest Park High School).
From 7:45-9:45 p.m., the popular Atlanta-based variety band, "Party Nation," will perform, closing out the celebration.
Throughout the festival, visitors will be able to purchase food from more than 20 different vendors, serving a variety of American, Jamaican, and Hispanic fare. There will be arts and crafts vendors, Forest Park centennial souvenirs for sale, moon walks and other activities for children, as well as several guest appearances, including a live demonstration of the honey-making process by the Georgia Beekeepers Association.
On Friday, from 5-8 p.m., and on Saturday, from 10 a.m., to 2 p.m., and 5-8 p.m., the city will also show its temporary history museum, which will visually illustrate the evolution of Forest Park.
Through historic documents and pictures, the museum will take viewers through Forest Park's transformation from a sparsely populated train depot into the county's largest city in population and size.
Elaine Corley, director of recreation and leisure services for the city, and the event's main organizer, said the museum will also highlight the city's future development plans.
"Our anticipation is that in the next four years, Forest Park is going to do a 180-degree turnaround," said Corley. "They will see what once was and what [Forest Park] can be."
For more information about the Centennial Celebration, call Forest Park City Hall at (404) 366-4720, or visit www.forestparkga.org.