39th Juneteenth Celebration underway at Hub City’s Dahmer Park

Hattiesburg celebrated Juneteenth in many ways Saturday.
Published: Jun. 18, 2022 at 9:56 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - People were gathering at Vernon Dahmer Park for a three-day Juneteenth celebration.

It was part of the 39th celebration of the holiday, organized by the Ray-E Foundation.

Juneteenth events in 2020 and 2021 were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It feels great,” said Rev. Ray A. Smith, chief executive officer of the Ray-E Foundation. “Its been a long time waiting to get back again, so we’re just grateful to have the opportunity to do it again and to have our sponsors and supporters,”

Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.

It became a federal holiday in 2021.

“We’ve been locked in the house like two years now, and its been two years since they had this, so it’s important that we get out and keep the memory and the celebration going,” said Fred Evans, a vendor from Oak Grove.

Events began Saturday morning with a parade, from the Train Depot in downtown Hattiesburg to Dahmer Park.

That was followed by live music, a softball tournament and a car show.

“I just love that everyone, no matter the color, can come together and celebrate, because back in the day, we probably wouldn’t be out here together, so it’s just a very heartwarming experience,” said Paris Jackson, of Hattiesburg.

The event also had several craft and food vendors.

“I think it’s going to be a success,” said Mary Breland, a vendor from Hattiesburg. “Because we’ve been down for two years with the pandemic and all that, so I believe it’s going to be successful.”

The event continues Sunday and wraps up Monday night with a fireworks show.

“Juneteenth is all about reconciliation and unity and all people are welcome to this event,” Smith said.

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