Sugarhill residents host neighborhood reunion

Some of the members of the Sugarhill Reunion Celebration Committee. The theme was “Staying Together.”

CLEVELAND TINKER/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 3:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 3:00 p.m.

Old friends who had not seen each other for a long time hugged, kissed, embraced and told stories as the sounds of old-school jams, such as “Planet Rock” by Soul Sonic Force and “When I Hear Music” by Debbie Deb and other songs, set the atmosphere at the Sugarhill Reunion Celebration.

Held Saturday at the playground at Woodland Park Boys and Girls Club, the reunion was a family-friendly event. Many kids played basketball and had fun on the playground while old friends enjoyed each other's company and some good food.

Marcus Gordon, 41, a resident of Woodland Park apartments (also known as Sugarhill), said he remembers when events such as the reunion celebration was a common occurrence in the community, which is bounded by Southeast 20th Place from the south, the neighborhood just north of SE Williston Road from the north, SE 1st Street from the west and SE 4th Street from the east.

“Back in the day, it was pretty much like this on a regular basis, but people don't get together and fellowship like this as often as they did back in the day,” said Gordon, as he pushed his 17-month-old son, Marcus Jr., on a swing.

The reunion was organized by members of the Sugarhill Celebration Reunion Committee, and along with the music provided by Rick “Pretty Ricky” Rice, included a menu of grilled chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs, as well as baked beans, macaroni and cheese, potato salad, cake and drinks.

Wayne Kelly, a member of the reunion committee, said his family was one of the original families to live in Woodland Park apartments when they opened in 1970. He said his old neighborhood will always have a special place in his heart.

“Everybody is like family from out here,” Kelly said. “No matter where we see each other, we embrace each other. I don't think there is no other place in the world, not just in Gainesville, but in the world, that is better than Sugarhill.”

Tijuana Griffin and Diane Jackson, both former residents of Woodland Park, agreed with Kelly.

“It used to be just one big happy family,” said Griffin, who grew up in the neighborhood in the 1970s. “Everybody used to look after everybody. Having the reunion is nice, and we are going to try to make it bigger and better every year.”

Jackson added that the neighborhood used to be very close-knit.

“Everybody knew who everybody was, and we all stuck together,” said Jackson, who grew up in the neighborhood in the 1980s. “We were a real community.”

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