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Santa Monica Celebrates Juneteenth

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By Lookout Staff

June 16, 2023 -- Santa Monica will hold the 31st annual Juneteenth celebration on Saturday at Virginia Avenue Park, while City Hall and other public facilities will close on Monday.

In addition to City Hall, the Transit Store, City Yards Operation Center and Santa Monica Public Library will be closed for the Federal Holiday commemorating the emancipation of Black slaves after the Civil War.

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Service changes will take effect for the Big Blue Bus; MODE; Parking enforcement, including street sweeping; Trash Collection and the Santa Monica Swim Center, which will be open special hours.

The celebration at Virginia Avenue Park on Saturday -- which will take place from 1 to 7 p.m. -- features music, unique food and craft vendors.

"Local Blues artist Sonny Green who will kick off the event with a lively set of classic soul and blues," event organizers said.

"And to culminate the event, American all-female pop/R&B band KLYMAXX featuring Cheryl Cooley will perform their classic songs."

The event will also feature a CRJ Live Community Stage sponsored by Committee for Racial Justice, a children's area, community information booths and more than 20 vendors selling everything from original artwork to African carvings to jewelry.

Juneteenth, which was declared a Federal Holiday in 2021, will also be observed by the iconic Pacific Park Ferris Wheel on the Santa Monica Pier.

The solar-powered wheel, which joins other Southern California landmarks commemorating the holiday, will display red, white, and blue patterns along with animations and transitions in green, red and gold for the evening, Pacific Park officials said.

The colors represent the official Juneteenth flag and the original Pan-African flag.

Juneteenth marks the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas became the last to be officially notified of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Union troops informed them that on September 22, 1862 President Abraham Lincoln had signed the proclamation, which was issued on January 1, 1863.

Celebrations commemorating the date began in Texas in 1866 and involved church-centered community gatherings. The observances spread across the South, centering on food festivals in the 1920s and 1930s.

In many parts of the country it has become a celebration of Black culture.

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