Juneteenth’s freedom celebration returns June 22

Each summer, Americans across the United States celebrate Juneteenth, commemorating the day – June 19, 1865 – when Gen. Gordon Granger reached Galveston Bay with 2,000 Union troops and decreed the emancipation of slaves.
The announcement arrived more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Another 150 years later and the date was ultimately commemorated as a federal holiday in the Juneteenth National Independence Act.
This year, June 19 falls on a Tuesday – the Gladewater MLK/Juneteenth Committee’s annual celebration is scheduled for the following Saturday, June 22.
“Juneteenth is an opportunity for our local community and the community outside of Gladewater to not only celebrate freedom but also to come together in unity and celebrate each other and celebrate our community,” said committee President Odette Alexander. “We’re hoping to have a lot of participation.”
The ‘Freedom Day’ event begins with the annual parade through downtown Gladewater with newly-installed Mayor Brandy Flanagan serving as Grand marshal.
Parade participants will gather at 9:30 a.m. in the 100 block of East Commerce Street before rolling out at 10 a.m. and turning South on Hwy. 271. Following Main Street, the caravan will turn along Coach Cooksey Street before coming to a stop at Bumblebee Park.
The park’s festivities will get underway at approximately 10:45 a.m. – hopefully later, Alexander says, if a healthy influx of parade participants keeps it rolling longer.
“Everyone in the community is invited to come out,” Alexander said. At the park, “We’re going to be giving away free food, there’s going to be music, a bounce house for the kids and hopefully some other activities for the kids.”
There’s no specific plan for vendors, she noted, but they’re welcome to join the event by calling in advance.
“We are also planning to have some car clubs in our parade, and they are going to have a car show at picnic. If someone’s interested in showing their cars, they can contact me for that as well.”
To register a parade float, sign up as a car show participant or reserve a vendor spot, call 903-806-5443 or 903-237-9740.
So far this year, the Gladewater MLK/Juneteenth Committee celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day – twice thanks to inclement weather in mid-January – and gathered local office-seekers and voters for a Meet the Candidate Forum in Red Rock Community Center April 12.
“What we try to do as a part of our committee,” Alexander said, “is to serve our community and put on activities that are going to bring us together to celebrate and appreciate each other.”

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