Community unity was a continuing theme during this year’s Juneteenth festivities, which drew a crowd of about 5,000.
Denton celebrated Juneteenth on Friday and Saturday, commemorating June 19, 1865, when Texas slaves learned they were free.
“You have to celebrate freedom all year long,” said Cheylon Brown, vice chairwoman of the Juneteenth Committee.
That was what was happening Saturday at Fred Moore Park. The goal of this year’s Juneteenth celebration was to increase the diversity of attendees as well as bring all age groups together.
The two-day celebration offered a variety of activities and attractions, including live entertainment, face painting, pony rides, games and a water slide.
Despite the hot day — with temperatures in the mid-90s — the crowds came.
With music in the background, many adults spent time catching up with old friends while children played.
Saturday’s events kicked off with a softball tournament at 9 a.m.
Chris Clay, who coached one of the softball teams, said he and his coed team, Roll With Us, have been playing in the tournament for the past four years.
“[It’s] one of the tournaments we’ve got to come to,” Clay said, adding he enjoys the event’s fun atmosphere.
Seven teams played in the tournament, which lasted most of the day.
Lolita Johnson, a first-time attendee, sat in the shade of a tree and listened to music while her young nephew chased a balloon around.
“I love the event,” Johnson said. “I love that I can just sit and chill.”
Lola Woods, who attended both days of the event, enjoyed Friday night’s gospel music as well as the food, which included ribs and turkey legs.
“It’s good that people can come together and have a good time,” Woods said. “It’s not just blacks, it’s all different types of races [at the event].”
The live entertainment began in the evening. The lineup included DJ Chubb, All Star Radio Show, Yung Nations, Miss La, Lois & Quince Q and AV the Great.
“One thing that unites people is music,” Brown said.
The Juneteenth Committee plans to continue to celebrate freedom throughout the year by holding events more regularly.
An anti-bullying rally has been slated for August and an essay contest focusing on freedom has been planned for the spring, coinciding with the committee’s annual leadership conference in April. The committee also hopes to include a 3-on-3 basketball tournament around the time of the Juneteenth celebration next year.