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Community members gathered for an annual Juneteenth celebration with food, fellowship and live music at Douglass Park June 22.

Eddie Culberson, owner of Dj E Charmz, said Juneteenth celebrates the freeing of slaves and the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Juneteenth dates back to 1865 and it was declared the 12th federal holiday in 2021. The day is traditionally celebrated on June 19. This year, the historical event was recognized in Duncan this past weekend and was hosted by Charm’n Entertainment LLC and Charm’n Hands NPO.

Culberson said the celebration in Duncan began with a donation from Family Dollar Distribution.

The distribution store donated pallets of water, animal crackers, snack crackers and trail mix.

Culberson said they gave out items from noon to around 6 p.m. to the community and it was a fun and eventful day.

“The park stayed relatively full for most of the day,” Culberson said. “I saw lots of younger people helping their elderly neighbors load food and water in their vehicles, kids were living their best lives between the splash pad, bounce house, playground, sack races and everything else.”

Throughout the event, Culberson said the adults were laughing, dancing and joining in fellowship.

“We served two meals and sent everyone home with their fill of water and snacks, and hopefully memories that will last a lifetime,” Culberson said.

One of the best parts of the day, Culberson said, was to see their diverse community represented in the park.

“Everyone was enjoying the day together, no matter their race, age, or anything else,” he said. “It was such an honor to partner with all of the volunteers that contributed to making this day all that it was, and we’re already thinking of ways we can hopefully do even more next year.”

Freedom Biker Church and Iron Works Disaster Relief joined the celebration alongside Culberson.

During the event, Culberson said the two groups helped to cook and distribute around 100 food plates with pulled pork sandwiches, chips, cookies, water, gatorade and soda.

“On top of that, they were also handing out Bibles, bologna, hamburger buns and sanitizer wipes to the community,” he said.

Steve and Cristie Amaral work with Iron Works Disaster Relief Team. Steve Amaral said part their mission is to go to hurricane reliefs to help feed and care for people, whether physically or spiritually.

Amaral said this is their second year to help with Juneteenth.

“We are blessed,” Amaral said.

Amaral said they are planning additional events to serve the community.

“If we can go 1,000 miles and go feed people, why not do something right in our backyard,” Amaral said.

Culberson noted a portion of the food served by the church was donated by Waste Connections.

“CnC Dunk Tank also set up a bounce house and dunk tank that ran all day and was much loved,” he said.

During the event, Stephens County Humane Society brought several of their shelter puppies to the park for a few hours and they gave out free dog and cat food as well.

Culberson said Micah Franklin set up a station for free haircuts, Shauntel Bell with Ready Acadamy Learning Center brought games and gift bags for kids and adults and they had live music with musicians such as Allana Taylor, Jennifer Lopez and Jaden Gallop.

“They were all absolutely breathtakingly talented as solo artists, but their harmonic rendition of ‘Lift Every Voice’ and ‘Sing’ was incredibly moving,” Culberson said.

They grilled up around 100 hot dogs toward the evening hours, Culbertson said, and community members played drums and Larry Culberson played bass guitar.

“We had music playing all day and the domino table stayed busy,” Culberson said. “We also handed out gift bags to the kids that included some Juneteenth bracelets, pins as well as some information about why we were gathering to celebrate this holiday.”

For more information about the event or to contact Culberson, visit https://www.facebook.com/charmnmusicgroup/ or email charmnbooking@gmail.com.