The Orange Convention and Visitors Bureau is helping sponsor a three-day Juneteenth festival at the downtown Riverfront Park this year.
The event will Friday, June 14; Saturday June 15, and Sunday, June 16.
The Orange City Council approved reimbursing expenses of up to $20,150 for the non-profit group Community Juneteenth Planning Committee. Councilors Pat Pullen and Annette Pernell recused themselves from the vote.
The Juneteenth committee is chaired by the Reverend Develous Bright of Salem United Methodist Church.
The money is coming from the city’s hotel occupancy tax that is used to promote tourism and history. City Economic Development Director Jay Trahan, who supervises the Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the group has a confirmed block of 20 rooms at the Holiday Inn Express.
Trahan said usually the hotel occupancy tax revenues are allocated before each new budget, but some money is set aside for events that might develop later.
Juneteenth is June 19, an American holiday that began in Galveston in 1865. A United States general read the Emancipation Proclamation on that date to let slaves know they had been freed. During the past half century, the holiday has spread worldwide as a day of freedom.
According to the council information, the Juneteenth celebration in Orange will begin on the Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. with a Zydeco dance. Saturday’s activities will begin with a parade at 9 a.m. and include Buffalo Soldiers at 11 a.m. The Battle of the Choirs will be at 12 p.m. At 4 p.m., the winning choir will be announced along with the winners of the Barbecue Cookoff.
During the day, a Kids Zone will have activities and music will be provided. Vendors will have food and drinks.
Sunday will begin at noon with a dinner and conclude with a worship service at 3 p.m. People are requested to wear white on Sunday. The worship service will include the winner of the Battle of the Choirs, the Orange Mass Choir, and a special performer and preacher.
Other business during Tuesday’s council meeting included extending the agreements with the Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission to continue the regional 911 emergency system and the emergency notification system that makes phone calls for emergencies like evacuation notices.
Also, the council approved proclamations declaring June as National Men’s Health Month and Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month.
-Margaret Toal, KOGT-