A two day event will honor community leaders and celebrate freedom with prayer, music and activities at the Riverfront Pavilion located next to the City of Orange Boat Ramp. Guest speakers are Henry Lowe, of Orange, and Father Jim Sichko Papal Missionary of Mercy at Catholic Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky – originally from Orange.
The Juneteenth Festival is a free event for the Orange Community being put on by Krewe de Onyx, a local Mardi Gras Krewe which has been active in various community service events in Orange.
The event is being held Saturday June 18 and Sunday June with gates will open at 10 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. both days.
In addition there will be a Community Prayer Service held Sunday morning at 10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. under the pavilion, before the musical performers take stage at 2 p.m. Honorees from the community, both locally and nationally, will be recognized during this time such as Pinehurst City Alderperson Cynthia Adams and also former sport athletes Travessa Gant and Kevin “Pup” Smith, both from Orange.
Gant is a basketball player who played Center for the Los Angeles Sparks for the WNBA.
Smith is a former professional American football player who played cornerback in the National Football League for nine seasons for the Dallas Cowboys.
Vendors will sell various food items and retail items during the event.
“Festival goers are asked to bring a lawn and come have a great time to this community event being provided for citizens of Orange and surrounding areas,” Russell Bottley, member of Krewe de Onyx, said.
No coolers or pets will be allowed inside the festival but tents will allowed in designated areas.
Security will be provided at the event.
Juneteenth is a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. It is also called Emancipation Day or Juneteenth Independence Day. The name “Juneteenth” references the date of the holiday, combining the words “June” and “nineteenth,” according to www.britannica.com
In 1863, during the American Civil War, Pres. Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared more than three million slaves living in the Confederate states to be free. More than two years would pass, however, before the news reached African Americans living in Texas. It was not until Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, that the state’s residents finally learned that slavery had been abolished. The former slaves immediately began to celebrate with prayer, feasting, song, and dance.
The following year, on June 19, the first official Juneteenth celebrations took place in Texas. The original observances included prayer meetings and the singing of spirituals, and celebrants wore new clothes as a way of representing their newfound freedom. Within a few years, African Americans in other states were celebrating the day as well, making it an annual tradition. Celebrations have continued across the United States into the 21st century and typically include prayer and religious services, speeches, educational events, family gatherings and picnics, and festivals with music, food, and dancing.
-Dawn Burleigh, KOGT-