One of Milwaukee’s oldest cultural celebrations is back. After taking a year off due to Covid-19, Milwaukee’s Juneteenth Day celebration will return on Saturday, June 19. The day kicks off with a parade at 8 a.m. starting at 14th and Atkinson and traveling to Burleigh and Dr. Martin Luther King Drive. It’ll be broadcast on TMJ4, and followed by a 9:30 a.m. opening ceremony with remarks from local dignitaries.
Juneteenth Day, which commemorates the end of slavery, is celebrated in cities across the United States, but Milwaukee’s celebration is one of the largest and oldest in the country. This year’s celebration is likely to be the city’s largest public gathering since the city eased it Covid-19 restrictions earlier this spring. There will be more than 200 vendors, according to Northcott Neighborhood House executive director Tony A. Kearney, Sr. — 65 of which will be food vendors.
MLK Health Center will provide COVID-19 vaccines in partnership with Walgreens at King and Hadley. Walmart and MLK Health center will offer free health screenings and eye exams.
The festival’s main stage will have live music beginning at 10:30, with headliner Rodney Poe beginning 3 p.m. Jammin’ 98.3’s Earl Stokes will emcee the stage.
Teen Zone at the Clinton Rose Center stage will have a DJ from 98.3, plus musical and spoken word performances by teens. Teens will also be invited to apply for summer work though the city’s Earn and Learn program, offering paid summer jobs at $11 per hour (an increase from the previous rate of $7.25). Bell Ambulance will also be on site recruiting cadets.
For the first time ever, a basketball matchup between young adults 15-20 years old and Milwaukee Police Department will take place between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. Teams will compete in multiple games. Northcott Neighborhood House, the main organizer of the celebration, worked with MPD District 5 to organize the basketball matchup. “We want to improve community relationships with police,” said Kearney.
An additional Kids Area will offer an carnival experience for kids under the age of 12 starting at 10 a.m. There will be a stage for entertainment, carnival games, rides and a petting zoo. Free food will also be provided to children under 12.
“Everybody is welcome. And we mean everybody,” Kearney said.
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