The sixth annual JuneteenthKC Cultural Heritage Parade in Kansas City is set for Sat., June 3, with the procession starting at noon. Over a hundred entries will walk from Grove Park down 18th St. into the heart of the Jazz District.
This year’s Grand Marshall is Qiana Thomason who is the President/CEO of the Health Forward Foundation—a nonprofit that works to improve health outcomes in underserved communities. JuneteenthKC is excited for the variety of floats and entertainment at this year’s parade including a series of family flags to be displayed in a large family tree celebrating KC family legacies.
The parade will include special performances, music, dancing, floats, and community participation. JuneteenthKC Program Director Makeda Peterson says that last year was the parade’s largest turnout yet, but expects even more people to come out this year.
“With the level of entertainment we have coming in, we do anticipate a bigger growth spurt,” says Peterson.
The JuneteenthKC Cultural Heritage Parade will feature performances by the renowned Rebirth Brass Band, a Grammy-winning institution from New Orleans known for their fusion of brass band, funk, and hip-hop. There are also pre-parade performances by The KC Dynamites, Mac Sauce, and Bikes Up Guns Down to add excitement and energy tof the event.
Further adding a touch of New Orleans parade flair to the community event are the Golden Feather Hunter Indians. Celebrating Black culture in its many forms, the group will appear in their stunning costumes that are considered works of art. The Golden Feather Hunter Indians are a tribe in New Orleans that came about from free Black people intermarrying with Native American and French populations.
Peterson sees the Cultural Heritage Parade as a way to celebrate Juneteenth and all Black culture, and the Golden Feather Hunter Indians are an example to emulate as they have preserved their culture despite hardships and discrimination.
“I see [the Golden Feather Hunter Indians] as a really great example of what African American culture can really be a reflection of,” says Peterson. “I think our community can learn from them to understand that we don’t have to just define African-American history with slavery.”
By incorporating elements of New Orleans’ parade culture and celebrating the Black Indian community’s heritage, JuneteenthKC aims to create a sense of community and provide a platform for Black culture that extends beyond the narrative of slavery. The parade serves as a reminder that Black history is diverse, vibrant, and rooted in multiple cultural influences.
To encourage community involvement and participation, JuneteenthKC partnered with StoneLion Puppet Theatre to create a family float-building kit. Community members were encouraged to build their own floats and contribute to the parade’s visual aspects. Some floats will showcase family legacies in Kansas City, with notable figures like Frank White Jr. and Alvin Brooks riding on the float to celebrate their contributions and family histories.
The festivities begin at 10 a.m. June 3, with the procession starting at noon. Along the parade route there will be free face painting, photos with Royals mascot Slugger, pony rides, balloons for kids. The outdoor event will also feature free cooling packs and hand fans to help beat the heat.
Those unable to attend can also view the live broadcast hosted by KSHB news anchor Kevin Holmes and Community Relationships Director Cynthia Newsome. The live coverage will begin at 1 a.m. on local channel 41 and the KSHB 41 app. There will also be a special rebroadcast of the parade at 5 p.m. Sat. June 17 and at 10 a.m. on Mon. June 19, on local channel 38 The Spot.