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Juneteenth festival returns to downtown Syracuse

The Syracuse Juneteenth Festival kicks off Friday
Juneteenth Festival
The Syracuse Juneteenth Festival kicks off Friday

The Syracuse Juneteenth Festival is coming back this weekend after a hiatus during the pandemic, and now, it’s officially a federal holiday.

“It’s important to know the freedoms that we have and the freedoms that we still continue to fight for,” said Bridget McCarthy, a Syracuse Juneteenth Festival board member. “And for that to be recognized not only as a state holiday, but as a federal holiday, gives it a greater significance.”

The day commemorates June 19th, 1865, when troops announced to slaves in Galveston, TX, that the Civil War was over, and they were free.

McCarthy said it’s a meaningful event in Syracuse.

"Our goal is to come together as a unified front,” said McCarthy. “Unified as a community, kind of like a family reunion type of event, where in spite of all that we've gone through, to celebrate we've made it through another year."

McCarthy said it’s important to mark the Black contributions to the city’s history, while remembering the fight for equality continues to this day.

She said she hopes the parade’s Grand Marshals, Syracuse Women’s Head Basketball Coach Felisha Legette-Jack and Syracuse Common Councilwoman Rasheada Caldwell, will inspire the next generation to have hope in the future.

"We just want to honor those who fight from that grassroots, coming from the city of Syracuse,” said McCarthy. “So (you can tell) the youth today, ‘Yeah, they came from the same neighborhoods you did, the same area, and look what they’ve achieved, and you're able to do that, too.’"

The festival will feature music, crafts, games, and food. It kicks off with a flag raising Friday and continues Saturday with a parade through downtown Syracuse.

For a full list of events, click here.

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.