Juneteenth Saturday Celebration organizers move event to new location

First held in downtown Mount Pleasant in 2019, the 2023 Juneteenth Saturday Celebration will continue the tradition of celebrating the rich history tied to the nation’s newest federal holiday.

Hosted by members of the Titus County Community Alliance (TCCA) and community volunteers, this local event will provide a FREE, full-day immersed in a Juneteenth experience like no other. Postponed in 2020 and 2021 due to concerns with COVID, this community-wide event is set for Saturday, June 17 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the Mount Pleasant Rodeo Grounds & Pavilion. The goal of the event is to continue the tradition of showcasing the true essence of all things Juneteenth and bring the entire community together to celebrate.

“The Chamber and its Board of Directors are excited to continue partnering with Titus County Community Alliance to help put on a community Juneteenth Celebration,” said Richard Bonney, Mount Pleasant Chamber of Commerce President and CEO. “This is an opportunity for our organizations to come together and provide an event that celebrates the best of Mount Pleasant. There is something for everyone in the family and will be an event you don’t want to miss.”

Juneteenth, a blending together of the words June and nineteenth, or June 19, is now a U.S. federal holiday as of 2021. It was June 19, 1865, when Union Army Major General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston and explained to Texas slaves of their emancipation. That day in 1865 came more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln first issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863. While the celebration has been popular in Texas since 1865 and in several other mostly southern states, it wasn’t until 1980 that Texas actually became the first state to make Juneteenth a statewide holiday.

Locally, the Saturday Celebration will begin with a community parade which will line up in the parking lot of Old Sam Parker Field on Riddle St. starting at 9 a.m. The processional, which will be led by car show participants, will depart at 10 a.m. onto W. 1st St. and then to Edwards Ave. The parade will continue to Highway 67, turn onto N. Jefferson Ave. and enter the second entrance of the Mount Pleasant Civic Center parking lot. Vehicles will then exit individually and head to the Mount Pleasant Rodeo Grounds and Pavilion, located at  for activities both inside and outside.

Any community organizations or local businesses wishing to participate in the parade (cash prizes will be given for best entries) or for general questions about the Saturday celebration is asked to call (903) 434-3581 or (903) 563-2175.

TCCA President Vincent Hurndon is excited about the new location and new activities planned for this year’s event.

“While we hated to move again this year, we are very pleased with the location we’ve chosen this year,” Hurndon said. “We hope to have Juneteenth there for many years to come. The pavilion will allow us to hold activities such as the pageant and games for seniors like bingo and a new Sunday Best competition indoors where it’s cooler. We will also have lots to do outside. This move will allow us to accommodate everyone.”

    The event will also feature the continuation of the Juneteenth Saturday Celebration Pageant showcasing local girls ages 1-10 vying for crowns in the Tiny Miss, Little Miss and Miss Juneteenth categories. New this year, boys ages 1-10 can compete for the Tiny Mister/Little Mister and Mister Juneteenth Best Dressed competition. The entry fee is $25. For more information, email Kaye Nelms at kaye.nelms@yahoo.com.

In addition to activities such as the pageant, food and crafts vendors will be set up to sell various cuisines and merchandise. Local businesses and organizations will also have booths providing helpful information to the public.

“Attending our Saturday event means you are also helping the community,” Kaye Nelms, TCCA secretary said. “TCCA is a 501c3, non-profit organization doing good in the community. Sponsorships from this event allow TCCA to serve even more students at the Back-to-School backpack drive in August, youth sports league sponsorships, Christmas shopping sprees for less-fortunate children and senior scholarships. We are so thankful to our sponsors, both new and returning, this year.  We continue to be amazed at the support we receive from our local business supporters.”

“I am very pleased to be a part of TCCA and I am looking forward to a good turnout this year for our Saturday event,” Hurndon said. “This celebration is not just for us, but it is to honor our forefathers who lived and suffered before us. We truly have a lot to celebrate.”

The 12-hour celebration will also include a crowd-favorite talent show, local performers and live band entertainment to close out the night starting at 7. There will also be games for all ages as well as door prizes and giveaways including gas and gift cards. Event t-shirts and other exclusive merchandise are also now available for purchase. For more information, go to the TCCA Facebook page, see a TCCA member or email gfrob@hotmail.com.

For TCCA member Suzie Castillo, volunteering at community-wide events such as the Saturday Celebration is second nature. Actively involved in Mount Pleasant’s annual Cinco de Mayo event, the local realtor decided to join TCCA in 2019 and lend her support to the cause. Castillo also serves as president of the Chamber board this year.

“I am so honored to be a part of this event and this organization,” Castillo said. “I didn’t know Juneteenth even existed until I became involved with TCCA. I’ve learned so much about the history of the celebration. Juneteenth is truly an event for everyone.”

“Meet us at the Old Sam Parker Field Saturday, June 17 as we kick off the day with the parade,” TCCA charter member Bobby Wilson said. “And be sure to follow us on out to the Rodeo Grounds and help in celebrating Juneteenth to the max.”