By Curt Yeomans
Riverdale Mayor Evelyn Wynn-Dixon proclaimed the beginning of a new Riverdale on Tuesday as she addressed more than 500 people at the city's centennial birthday party.
The party had food, an Atlanta-based jazz band -- 5 Men On A Stool -- and lots of dancing in the parking lot behind Riverdale's City Hall. The event was an observance of the city's past, but also a celebration of its future.
"We are bringing a new taste to Riverdale," said Wynn-Dixon to the crowd. "We are bringing class to Riverdale, above and beyond what we had before."
Much of the evening celebration was dominated by the 5 Men On A Stool performance, but DJs got the party started with Hip-Hop songs that got residents on their feet and line dancing. One reveler was state Sen. Valencia Seay (D-Riverdale). Clayton County Chief Magistrate Judge Daphne Walker attended, but was not spotted dancing.
"We're just having a good time out here, hanging out and dancing together," said Taya Morris, a 17-year-old Riverdale native, who came to the party with her sisters, Niesha, Paige and Taylor.
"This city needs more events like this," said Riverdale Police Chief Samuel Patterson. "The people are looking to do something around here. With gas prices being as high as they are, people can't afford to do much ,so you can't beat a free celebration."
Political candidates were in abundance, and walked the crowd, handing out campaign literature and mining for votes. Many had campaign staffers along Valley Hill Road, vying for the attention of drivers who passed by.
The party also celebrated some of Riverdale's recent accomplishments, such as two little league teams, the Riverdale Marlins and Riverdale Giants, who will participate in the 2008 USSSA Baseball American All Star World Series in Rock Hill, N.C., July 14-22.
"That's Riverdale... those are our children," Wynn-Dixon said.
Riverdale's centennial celebration will continue Saturday with a parade that will step off at 9 a.m., at Riverdale High School. The parade will end at Travon Wilson Park. It will feature marching bands, floats which illustrate the city's past, elected officials, and candidates who are seeking elected offices in the county.
U.S. Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) will deliver the keynote address during Riverdale's Centennial Day celebration. The Metropolitan Atlanta Community Band and choirs from New Macedonia Baptist Church and Lakewin Christian Center will perform.
On Aug. 1, city officials will break ground for a new multi-purpose Town Center at Travon Wilson Park. A day later, a "rebirth" celebration will be held at the park.