Daytona Beach celebrates 20th Juneteenth with parade, festival

The skies were sunny in Daytona Beach for the city's annual Juneteenth celebration. Marchers paraded down Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard. 

"It was really fun," said Ivyuna Shed, who watched the parade, "but I feel like they could have added more music and stuff, and whatnot."

Paraders ended their march at Cypress Park, where organizers had set up the annual Juneteenth festival. They say Daytona’s Juneteenth celebration is Florida’s largest and oldest, now in its 27th year.

"This community festival is something we look forward to. I'm just grateful for the Juneteenth committee, Linda McGee, and all she's put in to make sure the entire community of Daytona Beach and throughout comes to this area," said Deric Feacher, Daytona Beach City Manager.

Also known as Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, or Emancipation Day, Juneteenth commemorates when enslaved black people in Texas learned about their freedom after the end of the Civil War. In 2021, Juneteenth became a federal holiday. Visitor Angel Paige said it was our history that must not be forgotten. 

"We have a responsibility to our ancestors and to young people to continue to educate, talk about our history, and talk about why Juneteenth is important."

There were 137 vendors at the event, many of them offering important services to the visitors, like free medical testing. 

"Our clinic is committed to access to care for everyone, so we're pleased to be out here to help out at this event today," said Heather Vaughan, with CAN Community Health.

Organizers expected more than six thousand people to attend this year's festival. Historical reenactors portrayed important figures from the history of emancipation. 

"They need to know how their ancestors participated in this great event called the Civil War and what it was all about," said Flora Stitt, a historical reenactor, "and the part that their people played in, to bring the victory that we received."