Haines City Celebrating Third Annual Juneteenth This Weekend
by James Coulter
The Fourth of July is less than a month away. The holiday marks the occasion when the Declaration of Independence was signed and America became a country. It is a time when we reflect upon the freedoms we enjoy as American citizens.
Nearly 87 years after the signing of the Declaration, another important document, the Emancipation Proclamation, was signed, officially freeing African American slaves and declaring them to be American citizens.
As such, the date of June 19 is celebrated as Juneteenth, commemorating the occasion when the country founded upon “liberty and justice for all” truly lived up to its name by recognizing black and white Americans as equal citizens with equal rights.
This Saturday, the City of Haines City will be hosting its third annual Juneteenth Celebration, an all-day celebration that will kick off with a parade and continue with a concert, food trucks, children’s games, and other festivities.
The celebration will start the day before on Friday with the First Annual Juneteenth Black Tie Gala at the Lake Eva Center, located at 799 Johns Avenue, from 6 pm to 9 pm. The evening’s event will include a dinner, live musical entertainment, and a guest speaker.
Saturday’s event will kick off with the parade at 11 a.m. The parade route will start at Trinity Worship Center (2795 N 10th St.), with the parade heading south on 10th St., a left turn on Ave. N., right turn on MLK Way, and right turn on Ave. A.
Shortly following the parade, the festivities will continue with the “Juneteenth Soul Concert”, to be hosted at 1 p.m. on Myers & Wiley Field (915 Avenue E.) Performing that day will be “Solivita” from Kissimmee, FL (5 p.m.), CeCe Teneal & the Soul Komotion Band from Orlando, FL (6 p.m.) and Omar Cunningham from Jackson, MS.
The remaining Juneteenth festivities that day will include various youth activities, cultural arts, culture dance presentations, food and more, all on a fun-filled, family event.
Terrel Griffin, Haines City Parks and Recreation Director, expects city residents to not only enjoy a day of fun and games, but also to be enlightened about the celebration’s significance, especially to the local African-American community.
“Juneteenth means a lot to me personally,” he said. “Simply because, without the Emancipation Proclamation, I would not be able to express many of the freedoms that I am afforded due to the freeing of slaves. I feel this is momentous occasion in American history that should be celebrated by all.”
To ensure public health and safety, temperatures will be taken upon entry into the venues and hand sanitizing stations will be available. Overall, expectations remain high, especially with the current pandemic winding down and vaccination rates increasing.
“[I look forward to] seeing the community come together as one to celebrate and commemorate the end of slavery in the United States,” Griffin said. “As a City, we pride ourselves on the following: Haines City Forward – One City, One Vision. This will be on display throughout the Juneteenth celebrations on both Friday and Saturday.”
For more information regarding the event, please call (863) 421-9963, or visit the City of Haines City Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/hainescity