Juneteenth marks the day, June 19, 1865, when the last of American slavery was abolished. The holiday is one of the largest African-American celebrations, and every year it's a different story, said Duane Owens president for the Juneteenth Festival Board of Directors.
"We struggle to put it all together, and it falls in place toward the end," he said.
This year, a number of local organizations stepped up with support for the festival. "Say Yes to Syracuse and Wegman's also took a strong leadership role," Owens said. "They're awesome."
On Saturday, the parade kicked off around noon:
Hundreds of people marched the 1.4 miles from Dr. King Elementary School to Clinton Square lead by stilt walkers, a puppet from Open Hand Theatre, marching bands fronted with hip hop dancers, and stoic groups like 100 Black Men and drums from the Pan African Community of Central New York. Yet, everyone heard the chants and cheers when the Say Yes -- to Education -- Syracuse summer camp rolled by.
"Say what?" urged the counselors.
"Say, Yes!" The campers answered.
The morning crowd sought shade from the blaring sunshine, and for the most part, the festival went according to plan.
"We prayed that the weather god's were smiling upon us," Owens said. "We lost about an hour and a half because of the storm."
From under the Sankofa tent
Under the Sankofa tent, photos from the old 15th Ward of Syracuse acted as a symbol for the importance of learning from the past. Sankofa means "return and get it."
The local Power 106.9 and Hot 107.9 set up the mic for Dr. Roosevelt "Rick" Wright, Jr. and Kenny Dees was the DJ. Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli gave a welcome and the Abundant Life Christian Center brought the light of the gospel to the crowd.