Walkers, drivers, horse-riders: there are more than 50 entries on the list for the annual Juneteenth Parade set downtown Saturday.

They were still signing up Sunday afternoon, according to Kilgore Legacy Foundation’s Willie Vinson, and more are picking up applications ahead of the 10 a.m. kick-off Saturday.

They’ll begin lining up on Lawrence Street at 9 a.m. before heading downtown along Main Street to turn on North Kilgore Street then move toward Kilgore City Park and the foundation’s 2019 ‘fun fest’ celebrating the day.

The annual Juneteenth holiday – June 19 – commemorates when news of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation finally reached the whole of Texas through Galveston. It was 1865, a full two-and-a-half years since he’d issued the proclamation that as of Jan. 1, 1863, all slaves within the Confederacy “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”

It’s a holiday Kilgore Legacy Foundation has marked each year since 2014 with a parade, festivities, scholarships and honors for locals.

This year, Juneteenth’s 2019 King & Queen – recent Kilgore High School graduates Samuel Kosel and Jamaria Thomas – will be featured in the parade and the fun fest at Kilgore City Park where parade Grand Marshal Delores Arline will offer the day’s keynote address.

“I’m humbled that they thought that much of me to ask,” Arline said. “I’m really proud to represent.”

The fun fest begins about 11:30 a.m. and continues until 4 p.m.

Throughout the day, Arline said, it’s an opportunity to continue to share a central message, “The value of what the Emancipation Proclamation provided for our forefathers and for us today.”

A lot has been accomplished since that time, she added.

That said, “there’s a lot of work to do, a lot that we can change, a lot that can be improved on.”

For more information, contact the foundation via 903-738-1666.

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