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Haines City Celebrated Inagural Juneteenth With Parade And Soul Concert

Haines City Celebrated Inagural Juneteenth With Parade And Soul Concert

by James Coulter

Haines City celebrated its inagural Juneteenth with a two-day celebration last weekend, which included a gala, parade, and a soul concert. The event officially kicked off Friday evening with a Black Tie Gala at the Lake Eva Event Center, which included dinner, live music, and a special guest speaker.

The celebration continued the next day. Saturday’s festivities started with a parade with several dozen floats, vehicles, and performers. The parade started at Trinity Worship Center and continued along MLK Way and ended at Myers & Wiley Field.

Participating in the parade were representatives from the Haines City Commission, including Mayor Morris West, as well as from the Haines City Fire and Police Department and even the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

The remaining festivities continued at the athletic field with the Juneteenth Soul Concert, which included vendors, food trucks, and live musical performances by “Solivita”, CeCe Teneal & the Soul Komotion Band, and Omar Cunningham.

Juneteenth commemorates the freeing of black slaves following the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln. This year’s celebration proved especially momentous, as the occasion was officially recognized as a national holiday by President Joe Biden.

“The emancipation is a landmark event in our nation’s history as we continue to seek equality for all people. I’m very proud that our city was at the forefront, marking Juneteenth as a holiday even prior to President Biden making it a federal holiday,” Mayor Morris West said. “This celebration means a lot for our diverse community. It’s exciting to see a new tradition come to fruition in our great city.”

The overall celebration drew in a good turnout with the festivities on Friday and Saturday. The Soul Concert on Saturday afternoon especially attracted a great crowd. An estimated 300 to 400 people attended that evening’s concert, said Terrell Griffin, Parks & Recreation Director.

“For a first-time event of this magnitude, I was pleased with the turnout for the events both Friday night and Saturday,” he said. “I was pleased to see the outcome of the community working together to collaborate on such an important event in American History.”

Griffin appreciated seeing the community come together to celebrate the occasion, especially with the yearlong pandemic hopefully winding down. Moreover, residents of diverse backgrounds. gathered together in fraternity to live up to the town’s motto of “Haines City Forward – One City One Vision.”

This year’s Juneteenth Celebration was made possible by the hard work and efforts of the following local organizations and individuals: City of Haines City Event Center Coordinator, Lekia Johnson, Northeast Revitalization Group, Northeast Rattlers, and Unity in the Community and the NAACP (Haines City Branch).

With this year’s event being the inagural celebration, expectations were more than exceeded. Hopes remain high for next year’s celebration, especially now that Juneteenth has been officially recognized as a federal holiday.

“The event exceeded my expectations and I look forward to future events,” said Griffin. “The bar has been set high, however with continued community collaboration, I think future events will be bigger and better than this year’s event.”

author avatar
Staff Reporter

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