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ALTON – Alton marked its 31st Juneteenth Celebration with a rejoiceful day with milder weather and a huge crowd Saturday at James Killion Park at Salu.

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 18th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.

Former slaves in Galveston rejoiced in the streets after the announcement in what was the first Juneteenth celebration. Juneteenth is a nationwide celebration of the end of legal slavery in the United States, the end of the Civil War, and the Ratification of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ending slavery.

Today the celebration also encompasses current civil rights issues and in Alton, there were children's activities, music, entertainment, food, etc.

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Highlights were Cathy Smith with her rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and Kyla Gerhardt with a version of “America.” Alton Mayor David Goins read a proclamation for the day.

Alton American Legion Post 354 presented colors. The food is always awesome at the Juneteenth Celebration from tacos, BBQ, fried fish, ice cream, snow cones and so much more.

Abe Barham of the Alton Juneteenth Celebration Committee said Juneteenth organizers were “ecstatic” about all the people who came out on Saturday.

“We are even more excited about the young folks that get to enjoy the festivities,” he said. “In 2022, you can see 800-900 people here and it has become an annual event. It has really taken off. Now people are saying wow they have been doing it for 31 years and all the other communities are trying to catch up with us.”

“We have tremendous vendors here you can get everything from A to Z. All the activities for children were free.”


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