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Children of different races frolicked in the Elliott Park’s splash pad Wednesday while Wilma Newton recalled when the park was segregated.

“It was the Black park,” Newton said. “When my mom was a little girl. This was the only park she could come to.”

Newton has hosted Juneteenth celebrations at Elliott for 15 years.

Several hundred people gathered at the park Wednesday to celebrate the anniversary of when Texas slaves were notified of their freedom on June 19, 1865. Free barbecue brisket was prepared for 500 people. There were jump houses and a disc jockey.

“We do it in the evening when it’s cooler,” Newton said, adding that Muskogee County Emergency Medical Service brought misting fans.

“And children can go play in the water and fellowship,” she said.

Muskogee Police were on hand to tell people about Narcan, an over the counter treatment for overdose on opioids such as Fentanyl, she said.

Newton said she has watched the local celebration grow.

“I remember 10 years ago, we were offered to go to Spaulding Park, and I said we’re going to stay right here,” Newton said.

Over the past four years, Muskogee’s Juneteenth celebration has grown beyond Elliott.

Muskogee barber Triirmain Bates will hold the fourth annual Juneteenth Freedom Fest noon Saturday at Rotary Park.

Bates said the Saturday celebration focuses on a younger group than the Elliott Park celebration.

“It’s more catered to the kids,” he said. “We’re just going to let the kids know this is a real holiday, and this is the day the slaves in the south were really free. We’re really giving out information, making sure everyone knows.”

Freedom Fest will include free hot dogs and water, a 3-on-3 basketball contest and a water balloon toss.

“We have a slip and slide kickball we’re going to do,” Bates said. “It’s going to be the grown folks against the kids. We’re going to have a volleyball contest — we already have three teams.”

Newton said she would like to see a Juneteenth celebration at an east Muskogee park, as well.

She said Juneteenth is all about education. She said people at the Elliott Park celebration were reminded about the reason for Juneteenth and told about the red, blue and white Juneteenth flag.

According to the PBS show “American Experience,” activist Ben Haith and illustrator Lisa Jeanne Graf created the flag in 1997. The flag depicts a star bursting over a new horizon.