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A young girl gets her face painted like a butterfly during last year's Juneteenth celebration. (Rick Hickman / American Press Archives

A young girl gets her face painted like a butterfly during last year's Juneteenth celebration. (Rick Hickman / American Press Archives

Juneteenth: Celebrating the essence of freedom

Last Modified: Thursday, June 26, 2014 3:15 PM

By Alex Onken / American Press

This Saturday will kick off KZWA-FM’s Juneteenth: Essence of Freedom celebration downtown by the Lake Charles Civic Center. Festivities will run noon-7 p.m.

“We’re at our 149th anniversary of the Southern region learning that slaves were free,” said Mahoganii Goodly, special events coordinator for KZWA. “When the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, in the Southern regions the slaves weren’t told until two years later. So we’re at the 149th anniversary of the slaves finding out they were free.”

Lake Charles’ own Juneteenth festival has been taking place for the last 17 years with the radio station and its owner, Faye Blackwell, making the event one of the most prominent Juneteenth celebrations in the area.

“Ms. Blackwell initiated it, she created it and always had it rolling for these years. She wanted the community to know what the Juneteenth celebration is for, the history and to just have a big celebration for the communities to come together for the people that were enslaved,” Goodly said.

Events at this year’s Juneteenth will include many different music-related events such as Oak Park Elementary participating in Lip-Sync for Your Life contest, including a celebrity look-alike of Outkast’s Andre 3000 performing a rendition of the song “Hey Ya.” Concerts will include performances by Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Mel Waiters, Andre Pitre, Tommy Hammond, Harold Guillory, Bel-AMI, and Brandon Ledet among other local performers. The Elite Dance School will perform a dance number, as well.

“They’ll have something for the new school, and the old school as well,” Goodly said.

There will be a barbecue cookoff with KZWA’s Creep Creep with trophies for first, second, third place, as well as a prize for overall best meal.

“We have a couple of people in it that we consider our local celebrities, such as the Sheriff’s Department, the police jurors coming out and a couple of the people in the community that are coming out to cook and that love to express themselves that way.”

Younger Juneteenth festival-goers can enjoy the new Kids Zone, an activities area tailored for all different ages. Fun jumps will also be available for children.

“We have some face painting, bowling, a bike race, for the little guys from 0 to 3, we have some PBS shows that we’re going to show this year for the little kids that don’t really play outside that much that can enjoy a couple of different programs that PBS has supplied for us.”

After reflecting on her part for making the Juneteenth festival an experience for everyone, Goodly had this to say:

“Juneteenth is not just about the Emancipation Proclamation. It’s about also what we can do for our community and how we can grow our community, because with community support, we can strengthen our community.”

Activities will take place outside, but in case of inclement weather, festivities will be moved inside a large tent provided by one of the sponsors. A misting station outside will be available for cooling down.



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