CITY OF DESOTO: Best Southwest Cities make Juneteenth in DeSoto “A Night to Remember”

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City of DeSoto issued the following announcement on June 22

The Best Southwest Cities of DeSoto, Cedar Hill, Duncanville, and Lancaster have been coming together since 2004 to hold a joint celebration of the Juneteenth holiday in a different member city each year. DeSoto settled for a virtual celebration in 2020 when the Pandemic prevented large in-person gatherings but was proud to serve as the event’s host City for 2021 when the four-city joint tradition resumed on Saturday, June 19, 2021.

“DeSoto was honored to host this year’s joint celebration of Juneteenth at Grimes Park along with our partners, the Cities of Cedar Hill, Duncanville, and Lancaster. In addition to the celebration of freedom for all and of the proud African-American heritage of so many of our residents, this festival brought together our four great cities which have overcome many challenges during the Coronavirus Pandemic, so it gave us even more reason to reflect, give thanks, and celebrate on Juneteenth.” declared DeSoto Mayor Rachel L. Proctor, who also took time to recognize the efforts by many in the community to protect residents from COVID-19. “I would also like to thank those who spent their Juneteenth making access to vaccinations convenient and readily available in and around DeSoto. This includes DeSoto Fire Rescue, the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) and the Texas National Guard who offered COVID vaccinations at the Best Southwest Juneteenth Celebration, Parkland Hospital who provided vaccinations at the Ellis Davis Fieldhouse and from their mobile unit at Uplift Hampton Preparatory, Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, and local entrepreneur Ernie Williams who hosted a Dallas County HHS pop-up vaccination site at his Juneteenth Dedication Event at Ernie Williams Insurance Agency in DeSoto. Our community is better when we look out for one another and we are stronger when we work together.”

The Best Southwest Cities celebration came just one day after US President Joe Biden signed legislation making Juneteenthth a Federal Holiday. The bill proposing the holiday passed the US Senate unanimously and was then approved by the US House of Representatives on a vote of 415 to 14 before arriving at the President’s desk. The importance of this action was not lost on the Best Southwest event’s key participants.

Duncanville Mayor Barry L. Gordon observed, “The fact that the Administration has decided to make a Federal Holiday, of course, it adds more significance to it, but we here in the Best Southwest have always celebrated Juneteenth, and that fact that the Best Southwest is a partnership with a comradery, we get along, we do these things together, and that’s what makes us strong. And that’s what puts us all together to be such a strength for what we do in honoring Juneteenth.”

Lancaster Mayor Clyde C. Hairston echoed his colleague’s sentiments and took a moment to reflect on the event that inspired the holiday, “When General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, issuing Order No. 3 on June 19, 1865; and as the news spread, thousands flooded the streets of Galveston rejoicing in their newfound freedom and celebrating with song, dance, and prayers! Creating this day we now celebrate as Juneteenth. The City of Lancaster is pleased and proud to join with the Best Southwest Cities of DeSoto, Duncanville, and Cedar Hill in celebrating this very special day in history as well as receiving some awesome news… Juneteenth is now a National Holiday… Let’s celebrate!”

Cedar Hill Mayor Stephen Mason experienced air travel delays and could not make the onstage introductions but expressed his pride in the Best Southwest community, “The Best Southwest Juneteenth Celebration is a day of joy and reflection for our communities and we are blessed to honor the occasion with our partner cities as we have done for the past 17 years. Each year on Juneteenth we reflect on the past and celebrate the emancipation of Black Americans and look to our younger generation with hope for the future.”

Close to 6,800 participants from across the Metroplex and neighboring states attended Saturday’s celebration in Grimes Park despite 95 ⁰ degree temperatures and intense sun from a cloudless sky. Most attendees heeded organizers cautions to drink plenty of water and bring something to shade themselves from the sun. DeSoto Fire Rescue reported virtually no heat-related illnesses, and the only people experiencing light-headedness seemed to be the concertgoers who were “swooning” when R&B legend and former Shalamar lead singer Howard Hewett walked off the stage after a few numbers and into the crowd where he serenaded audience members up-close and standing on chairs for close to a half-hour. Crowd favorite hitsfrom Hewett included A Night to Remember, This Is For The Lover in You, and The Second Time Around.

Another celebrity visitor who pleased the crowd was award-winning actor, choreographer, dancer, producer, director, and author Darrin Henson who spoke to the crowd from the Grimes Park event stage and later walked the grounds posing for pictures and talking to fans who remembered him from the TV Series Soul Food, and for his dancing and choreography work with New Kids On The Block, Brandy, Salt N Pepa, ‘N SYNC, Jordan Knight, Christina Aguilera, and Britney Spears.

In terms of local familiar faces, Texas State Representative Carl O. Sherman Sr. attended Saturday’s celebration as did DeSoto Mayor Rachel L. Proctor and the DeSoto City Council, Duncanville Mayor Barry L. Gordon and the Duncanville City Council, Lancaster Mayor Clyde C. Hairston, and the Lancaster City Council, and Cedar Hill Mayor Pro Tem Alan E. Sims and the Cedar Hill City Council. DeSoto ISD Superintendent Dr. D’Andre Weaver and new ISD School Board President DeAndrea Fleming also joined in the celebration. All in all, there were 52 dignitaries in attendance.

14 food vendors were on hand for the Best Southwest Juneteenth Celebration and four of them sold out completely. Snow Cones and non-alcoholic pineapple drinks served in hollowed-out pineapples went quickly as did Southern-Style entrees and BBQ which is traditionally in demand on Juneteenth. 41 merchandise, craft, and information vendors also kept very busy during the celebration.

Special thanks to Senior Pastor Marcus D. King of Disciple Central Community Church (DC3) in DeSoto for the use of his parking lot, and also to STAR Transit for providing the shuttle service from DC3 to the event site at Grimes Park. The Best Southwest Juneteenth Celebration shifts to the City of Lancaster in 2022 and the City of Duncanville will follow them in the rotation as the host city in 2023.

Original source can be found here.

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