Area Juneteenth events celebrate freedom with festivities

TaRhonda Thomas Image
Monday, June 19, 2023
Area Juneteenth events celebrate freedom with festivities
A day of festivities marked the celebration of Juneteenth across the Delaware Valley.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A day of festivities across the area marked the celebration of Juneteenth.

One of those celebrations happened in Old City as the African American Museum in Philadelphia held its third-annual Juneteenth block party and festival. The event took place along Arch Street between 7th and 8th.

"We're looking at a commemoration of the true end of slavery in the United States, which is a complex history," said Morgan Lloyd, program coordinator at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. "But simultaneously we're able to celebrate almost like a second Independence Day because that's truly all of what it is."

The block party included music, vendors selling cultural merchandise, health booths, performances, historic re-enactments, and a show headlined by DJ Spinderella from the iconic hip-hop group Salt-N-Pepa.

"It really brings people here," said Layton Pannell of Fishtown as he walked through the block party.

"It's a joy for the kids to understand the history of what Juneteenth means," said Mark Smith of North Philadelphia.

The museum also offered free admission to the public all day on Monday and included groups like Philly Girls Jump! doing double-dutch performances while teaching people in the crowd.

"This is so surreal like just here in the middle of the street jumping in double Dutch, you know? This is part of our childhood. This is what we do," said Dr. Jenaya White with Philly Girls Jump!

The Philadelphia celebration was expected to draw up to 10,000 people. A smaller but still lively celebration happened during the same time in Norristown. The municipality hosted its Juneteenth Jubilee Festival along Dekalb and Main Streets from noon to 6 p.m.

The event featured music, an art show, vendors and more. It's only the second year that Norristown has hosted the celebration.

"I'm so excited," said Norristown Special Events Coordinator Tracie Henry who organized the event.

"(Attendance is) double what it was last year, and it's just the beginning of it all," she said.

Both events drew crowds of people who appreciated the positivity of Juneteenth celebrations.

"That's what our city needs," said Tonette Hunt of Huntingdon Valley. "...this is joy!"