PINE HILLS, Fla. - Many gathered in Pine Hills this weekend for the Pine Hills Parade. Organizers say it was more than just a holiday parade, as it showcased the community's culture, history, and vibrancy.
Crowds gathered at Barnett Park this weekend for the Pine Hills Parade. Many people played music and danced as people from all parts of the community came together.
"The way people light up when they see representation, that’s why we do this," said Guenet Gittens-Roberts of the Caribbean American Passport.
"Pine Hills has so much pride," added Paul Billings of The Heart and Soul. "We love our community. And, on this day, we can showcase that pride and the diversity that this community has that is too often overlooked."
Pine Hills was in the national spotlight earlier this year when Spectrum 13 News Reporter Dylon Lyons, 9-year-old T'yonna Major, and 38-year-old Natacha Augustin were tragically shot and killed. Organizers say this parade shows how strong the community is.
"We are bouncing back well," said Sandra Fatmi-Hall of the Pine Hills Community Council. "We've got to change some things. You can’t do the same thing and expect different results. That’s why we’re doing our mentoring and bringing our community together. That’s our start, and we’re going to continue."
Central Florida elected officials were also part of the parade, as Congressman Maxwell Frost, State Attorney of the Ninth Judicial Circuit Andrew Bain, and Orange County Commissioner Mike Scott all marched in the parade.
"This community is more than the headlines that you see on the news. It’s more than violence. It’s more than gun violence. It’s about history, it’s about culture, and it’s about love," said Congressman Frost.
State Attorney Bain added that it's important to come together as one.
"It says we are resilient. It says we are up to the challenge of changing the tide of those tragic incidents that happened here in this neighborhood. We have people in the community who can make that change that we all want to see," said State Attorney Bain.
"It’s doing things like that. Coming together to celebrate and also to do collective work together, so we can prevent those incidents from happening, try to get people and mentors in place and opportunities in place, especially for young people, to elevate their lives, so they’re not caught in our criminal justice system," he continued.