Juneteenth celebration seeks to bridge generation gap

June 16, 2012 at 1:16 a.m.
Updated June 17, 2012 at 1:17 a.m.

Sandra Avery proudly looked out on the green park grass on Saturday and watched as a tradition she started 20 years ago continued to grow.

Avery, 69, is now president of the Old Landmark Committee, but years ago Avery was a cafeteria worker for several Victoria ISD schools. The scars and burns on her hands are evidence of her culinary past.

"I love kids, when school was out, and they didn't have anywhere to eat, they knew where to come," Avery said.

Tents were pitched in a park, where local vendors sold turkey legs, watermelons and lemonade. Members of Western Star Masonic Lodge No. 11 were also there promoting membership and doing some of their own fundraising.

This was Theodore Garcia's, 24, first time bringing his kids to celebrate Juneteenth.

"It's real important that you get a bunch of different cultures together," Garcia said. "It's all about having a good time and there's no controversy."

Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. The observation originated in Galveston in 1865. In Victoria, the Old Landmark Committee seeks to make Juneteenth a day to celebrate not only African-American heritage but also others that make up the South Texas region.

What makes this Juneteenth unique is that the consumption of alcohol is strictly forbidden.

"We don't want that, we want to teach the children about their heritage the right way," Avery said. "The connection between the youth and elderly is very important to us."

Wearing a striped pink and purple dress, Meshaela Alexander, ran back and forth throughout the park. Meshaela, 9, was first in her age division in the watermelon-eating contest. She said the cheering distracted her during the contest, but she just kept chomping until the slice was reduce to the rind.

"I've never won a trophy in my life, so I'm pretty excited," Meshaela said. "I want to put it in the dining room so everybody can see it while they eat."

Although the turnout wasn't exactly what organizers were hoping for, they hope to make next year's celebration a bigger event with the help of community donations.

"We just want everybody to enjoy being out here," Avery said. "Get your lunch, sit down, eat your watermelon, drink red soda water, just eat and get fat like me and be happy."



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