Juneteenth to take over amphitheater

LIMA — Lima’s Juneteenth celebration might not have a parade this year, but organizer Marc Wright thinks it will be bigger and better than ever. The celebration of news of the Emancipation Proclamation reaching the last enslaved persons in the South will take place Saturday, June 15 at the Greater Lima Region Amphitheater and Park, the first time this venue has hosted the event.

“We’re grateful for the opportunity to move to the amphitheater, as well as the support from the Civic Center Foundation,” he said. “It elevates it to a whole new level with that space and all the excitement behind it and all the upcoming events that are going to be held there. We’re very happy to be included in all of that promotion with this event.”

The event will see a full slate of entertainment, food and family fun throughout the day starting at noon, but Wright said residents are welcome to make it to the amphitheater early as DJ Frenzy and DJ Sabotaj open the event starting at 11:30 a.m.

“We’re going to be giving away small door prizes as the kickoff party starts and we’ll be walking around giving people things that the vendors have donated from their shops,” he said. “We want a lot of people there so they can hear the proclamation at 12:30 p.m. and be ready for the anthems. We want everyone to really enjoy that full five and a half to six hours.”

Residents can bring their own lawn chairs to enjoy music, dancing and spoken word performances or they can visit the pop-up shops, kid’s zone and food trucks.

“A majority of it is soul food, but we added a gourmet funnel cake truck this year,” Wright said about the food truck lineup. “Across the street from the amphitheater will be seating tents so people don’t have to walk around and eat if they don’t want to. But the sound system at the amphitheater is just amazing quality.”

Wright said he is looking forward to the event running smoothly again thanks to the work put in by a committee of volunteers, but the fellowship will really make it worthwhile for him.

“Having a lot of attendees and people talking with each other about the reason for the celebration as Black individuals,” he said. “It started the process of African-Americans searching for their family members and what it has created is barbecue gathers and family reunions celebrating across the world. Here in the United States, though, it’s about celebrating unity and acknowledging the true freedom that happened for the last state in the United States so I want to see people from all walks of life at this event, all colors and nationalities because there is no criteria of who can and cannot attend.”

With any luck, the celebration will continue growing out of the positivity of events like this.

“I’m hoping this holiday is replicated in schools and organizations and acknowledged by more people to the point where they allow their employees to celebrate and close for the day,” he said. “I know it’s a federal holiday, but this is an opportunity for companies to discuss having it for the organization.”

Opening remarks for the holiday will begin at 12:30 p.m. and the closing ceremony will start at 6 p.m.

Entry for the event is free.

For more information, visit the Juneteenth Lima Facebook page at bit.ly/3XeaIap.

Reach Jacob Espinosa at 567-242-0399.