Community celebrates end of slavery with Juneteenth event

Cyclists, including some with homemade signs and balloons fixed to their respective bikes, rode through the streets of Wills Point during the parade.

By David Kapitan

Staff Writer

 

Mother Nature has wreaked havoc with plenty of events throughout much of 2015 with rain, cold and everything in between but she gave attendees of this year’s local Juneteenth festivities a reprieve by providing relatively mild temperatures and holding off on showers until later in the day.

For more than two decades, the city of Wills Point has been the site of the largest Juneteenth celebration in Van Zandt County. It maintained the tradition this year June 20. Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston with the news that the Civil War had ended and the enslaved were now free. 

This announcement came two years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of Sept. 22, 1862.

The celebration of June 19 became “Juneteenth” and the observance has grown beyond the borders of Texas and traveled to other countries. It became an official state holiday in Texas after having been signed into law on June 13, 1979.

This year’s event followed the template set by previous local Juneteenth celebrations, bringing hundreds of attendees to participate in the annual parade and party in the park with free food, drinks, entertainment and games.

Organizers estimated that this year’s event was attended by more than 400 people from in and around the community.

 

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