Juneteenth 2023: Cherry Hill Parade, Festival Galvanize Community


Lorraine Bonamy Brown and Sandra Danner pose at their vending table at the festival. Photo by Shaniele Brown.

By Shaniele Brown | For AC JosepH Media

CHERRY HILLThe Cherry Hill African American Civic Association (CHAACA), joined the Cherry Hill Township and Cherry Hill Police Department to host its third annual Juneteenth Parade and Festival at Croft Farm.

This year’s parade was Grand Marshaled by Dr. Lovell Pugh-Bassett, president of Camden County Community College. There was an increase in participants this year than in 2022, allowing different organizations to unite and bring joy to the community.

Education Associations, Girl Scout clubs, cheerleading, and dancing teams, along with marching bands and more, traveled the streets to put on a festive show. Camden High Marching Band and the Sixers Stixers wowed the crowd with their rhythmic Melodies and sound.

“I served as the Grand Marshall for the parade; that was pretty exciting! It’s wonderful to see the Cherry Hill community come together,” Pugh-Bassett said.

Camden High Marching Band, Dr. Lovell Pugh-Bassett, and attendees look on as the Sixers Stixers make a joyful noise. Photo by Shaniele Brown.

“The parade was excellent; I feel Camden High would have won an award if awards were given, “Cherry Hill resident Annette Grant said.

After the parade, guests enjoyed live entertainment with Dioanna Gayle as the MC, music by DJ Bishop, over 40 vendors to visit and shop with, and an excellent lineup of tasty food options ranging from smoothies to chicken.

Attendees also had access to health screenings and mobile clinics, which provided medical services and resources and gave health education. One of the event’s platinum sponsors, Cooper University Hospital, provided blood pressure monitoring.

On stage Gayle opened up the festival by performing “Lift every voice and Sing” as the crowd sang along with her to the Black national anthem.

Dioanna Gayle sings, “Lift every voice and Sing.” Photo by Shaniele Brown.

“The song is a reminder of the struggles that we’ve come through as people, and at the same time, it’s very uplifting for the present and makes us very hopeful for the future, said Chalyn Hickson, a recruiter representing Camden County Community College.

Tina Truitt-O’Neal, president of CHAACA, along with Susan Shin Angulo, mayor of Cherry Hill, city council members, and Camden County Board of Commissioner Jonathan L. Young, Sr. welcomed the crowd of over a hundred guests to a celebration of freedom. Juneteenth is recognized as the oldest continuous celebration of the end of slavery in the United States.

Mayor Susan Shin Angulo, Tina Truitt-O’Neal, Cherry Hill City Council members, C.H.A.A.C.A members, along with Camden County Commissioner Jonathan L. Young, Sr. Photo by Shaniele Brown.

“We have more sponsors this year. We have improved our parade with more bands and a lot more vendors. The event couldn’t have happened without our sponsors,” Truitt-O’Neal said. 

Returning and new vendors showcased various art, books, clothing, wellness items, tee shirts, handbags, jewelry, baked goods, and other homemade products. Lorraine Bonamy Brown and Sandra Danner, L&S Off The Hook owners, traveled from Philadelphia to promote their hand-made crochet hats, some featuring black, yellow, red, and green to represent Juneteenth.

Lorraine Bonamy Brown and Sandra Danner pose at their vending table at the festival. Photo by Shaniele Brown.

“It’s well planned, organized, and a great way to commemorate Juneteenth; people coming together, free to be entrepreneurs because that wasn’t always the case,” Danner said.

The event catered to all ages; face painting, petting zoo, and story readers were among some of the activities for children. Other activities included square dancing, soulful yoga, performances on the main stage, spoken words, African drumming and dancing, and so many more talented acts.

“I’m hoping that our guests mingled and enjoyed the festivities, food, and fun and that they took some time to reflect and understand that although we are celebrating our freedom, it’s just a long way to go, and the festival was on hollow ground which was once part of the Underground Railroad, that not a lot of people know,” said Truitt-O’Neal.

Join the Cherry Hill African American Civic Association next year for more fun, entertainment, and Juneteenth history.

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