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"Love and us coming together," Juneteenth parade and festival in New Iberia

2024 Juneteenth Festival image
Posted at 8:34 PM, Jun 15, 2024

NEW IBERIA, La. — The Garon Paul Atkinson Lewis Foundation celebrated the Juneteenth holiday with a parade and festival.

The GPAL Foundation, an organization with a vision "to improve the lives of youth, families and communities suffering from oppression, poverty and violence," according to their website, celebrated the Juneteenth holiday in New Iberia this weekend.

"We had our gala last night, which was very well put together," said Tyra McWhorter, executive director at the GPAL Foundation. "...and today, we have our parade, and we're going to end it with a softball game and a volleyball game and just fun in the park for the families and their kids."

But, the celebration is about more than just fun.

"Right now, with the gun violence that we have going on in our community, this is a way for all organizations and community, as a whole, to unite and come under one umbrella and actually have a peaceful event," said Krystal Boyance, assistant director at the GPAL Foundation.

The festival had fun jumps, a splash pad, a pork steak cook-off, vendors and a live performance by New Iberia native musician Shani Shanell, who said the celebration was really about...

"Community—the word 'community.' Everybody gets to come together. We actually are able to have a good time, you know, and just fellowship and love on one another," Shanell said.

As a federal holiday, Juneteenth is meant to commemorate the ending of slavery in the United States, but for this community, it's also about celebrating each other in a safe, loving environment.

"I'm praying that this—these types of celebrations will allow us to just come together more because that's what this community really needs: love and us coming together," Shanell said.

There are plenty other Juneteenth events and celebrations happening all around Acadiana, leading up to the actual Junteenth holiday on Wed., June 19. To see a full list, click here.