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City to celebrate Juneteenth

The city’s grand opening of the Martin Luther King Jr. pedestrian bridge over Loop 288 today should help provide a fitting start to Denton’s annual Juneteenth festival.

City leaders and other dignitaries will gather at the new pedestrian bridge at 10:30 a.m. to unveil a plaque and cut a ribbon as part of the ceremony to name the bridge for King.

Family members of former Denton City Council member Charlye Heggins, who championed naming the bridge to honor the beloved civil rights leader, are scheduled to attend the ceremony. Heggins died May 29 after a long battle with cancer.

“With her passing, the event takes on a new significance,” city spokeswoman Lindsey Baker said.

We agree, and we encourage area residents to attend today’s dedication to honor Dr. King’s legacy and to pay tribute to the many contributions and accomplishments of former council member Heggins, who worked much of her life to make Denton a better place to live and work.

We also look forward to the annual Juneteenth festival, which promises a variety of events and entertainment for all ages.

The festival is set to begin at 6 p.m. today in Fred Moore Park with a free gospel concert, and it will continue Saturday with a parade, a softball tournament and much more.

Cheylon Brown, vice chairwoman of the Juneteenth Celebration Committee, said the theme for this year’s event is “Unity in the Community.”

“We want the celebration to be the unifying event for the entire city,” Brown stated in a press release.

The gospel concert on the C.H. Collins Stage at 629 Lakey St. will feature several Denton church choirs and will be broadcast on Channel 30.8, the Black Premier Entertainment Network. It will also feature Larry Brooks and the New Zion Travelers, Toni Nelson, GFT Clique, Sons for Christ, God’s Promise, Total Witness, Cassandra Berry, Clint Sturgeon & Lester Robinson and others, according to the press release.

The festival continues Saturday morning with a parade. Lineup begins at 9 a.m. at the Denton Civic Center. The parade begins at 10 a.m. and the parade route will travel south down Bell Avenue, east on Robertson Street and through the neighborhood to Fred Moore Park at Lakey and Wilson streets.

A softball tournament is also planned for Saturday morning at the park, and several vendors are expected to set up at the park for the weekend, Brown said.

A reception honoring Denton “Hometown Heroes” will be held after the parade and a short program is planned at the American Legion Senior Center located on the edge of the park.

A second concert featuring a “Hip Hop Explosion,” R&B and soul music will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday in the park, and will also be broadcast. A pre-show at 6:30 p.m. will feature a local comedy act.

The annual event offers an excellent opportunity for all local residents to mark a unique day in Texas history and celebrate Denton’s multicultural heritage.

On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers docked in Galveston and Texans finally learned, nearly three years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, that slaves had been freed.

Statewide, Juneteenth celebrations began the following year and have continued to this day.

Denton’s festival offers something for everyone and promises to be an entertaining and unifying event. Why not plan to attend?