05/14/04 — First Jam of season draws eager crowd

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First Jam of season draws eager crowd

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on May 14, 2004 2:03 PM

The faint sound of beach music echoes throughout downtown Goldsboro as vehicles begin filling all the parking spaces near the Waynesborough House.

People of all ages carry their blankets, chairs, water and sunscreen through the warm air. The crowd gathers near the stage to get a close look at the band members of The Fantastic Shakers, dressed in black shirts and striped pants.

"Where are the party people in Goldsboro?" asks a band member.

The crowd yells, and the music begins to play.

People begin dancing in their seats and going out to the area in front of the stage. Others continue to enjoy refreshments and socialize with friends.

Cecilia Toney arrived early so she could plant her chair in her favorite spot. She was joined by her two daughters, Mariah, 4, and Rachel, 7.

Mariah wore sunglasses and beads and would dance for a few minutes and then sit back down. She didn't have much to say when asked if she was having a good time. The nod of her head, however, said it all.

Ms. Toney said they come to the Center Street Jams every year, and they are usually the first ones to arrive and the last ones to leave. She moved to Goldsboro three and a half years ago from Texas. She enjoys beach music and said the event was good clean fun for her children.

Other people stayed in the shade for most of the night with cool drinks.

Earnie Bush, 68, was eating a slushy under a tree with his wife, Bess. He said he attends the Jams regularly and also travels to other musical events across eastern North Carolina.

"I just enjoy music, and I like people," he said.

The Shakers soon play the familiar "Electric Slide" song, which brought more dancers to the area in front of the band.

Sharon Smith from Dudley was celebrating her 39th birthday with her friend Hampton Lee. She said she really likes the Shakers, and the Electric Slide.

"It is a nice sunny day to enjoy yourself," she said.

The Jams are a free outdoor concert series held every other Thursday from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Waynesborough House parking lot through Sept. 2. It is sponsored by the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. and local businesses.

Julie Metz, DGDC director, said they usually have anywhere from 3,500 to 6,000 people attend, depending on the band, weather and other factors. She estimated that between 3,500 and 3,750 people attended Thursday. She said this crowd arrived earlier than normal.

The event has 54 sponsors this year, which is the most it has ever had, she added.

She said the event has probably been the most successful project since she has been with the DGDC. It brings all kinds of people downtown, and they see that there are positive things going on, she said.