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Thousands march in Denver's Juneteenth Parade to kick off weekend celebrations

Denver's Juneteenth Parade is one of the city's longest running parades, dating back to the 1950s.
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Posted at 2:16 PM, Jun 15, 2024

DENVER — Thousands of Coloradans are celebrating Juneteenth this weekend in Denver's historic Five Points neighborhood.

Juneteenth marks the day enslaved people in Texas learned they were free -- two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.

The festivities kicked off with one of the city's oldest parades, which started at Manual High School and made its way down Welton Street to the Juneteenth Music Festival.

This year’s festival features Bow Wow, an American rapper and actor who will lead a lineup of local performers highlighting Denver’s rich celebration of cultural heritage and music.

Alicia Smith-Young was one of the folks marching in Denver’s Juneteenth Parade – or should we say, jumping and skipping – with the 40+ Double Dutch Club.

“We’re here to celebrate freedom — freedom to play, freedom to be Americans, and have the freedom to live your life,” she said.

The Denver Juneteenth parade dates back to the 1950s, symbolically retracing the journey of the last emancipated slaves.

“Marching in it, seeing all the community on the sidelines, being able to represent and support everyone, being together, happy, you know, peacefully… it's a beautiful thing,” said Nikki Smith, who led the Colorado Community Elite Drill Team girls down the parade route.

With drums, marching, and dancing, it’s a celebration of triumph.

Thousands march in Denver's Juneteenth Parade to kick off weekend celebrations

Longtime attendees say it’s a celebration that continues to spread every year.

“I think it's great. It's gotten bigger. I used to do security for it four or five years ago, and it's grown so much,” said Morris Luckey, who walked in the parade with youth from his nonprofit Boys Day.

“Right now, I think in this world, we need that. We need community, and we need to show each other at the end of the day that we all have red blood in our bodies and hearts, right?” said Smith-Young. “It doesn't matter about the color of skin on the outside. It matters about what connects us and not what separates us.”


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