A sunny Juneteenth in Sandusky

SANDUSKY A group of volunteers willing to donate their time made Sandusky's Juneteenth celebration a
Tom Jackson
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

A group of volunteers willing to donate their time made Sandusky's Juneteenth celebration a success Saturday. But give some credit to Mother Nature, too.

Two previous attempts to celebrate Juneteenth were rained out, but blue skies greeted Saturday's event, held in a one-block area of Columbus Avenue just south of Washington, near Washington Park.

A mixed-race, good-natured Saturday-afternoon crowd celebrated the day, which marks June 19, 1865, when word was officially announced by federal troops at the end of the Civil War that the Emancipation Proclamation was being enforced in Texas and that slavery in the Lone Star State was history.

It's a really big in holiday in Texas, and areas near Texas, but it's been growing as a holiday in other areas of the country, said Mary Sanders, an employee of the Center for Cultural Awareness.

Sanders organized the vendors who participated in the event.

She said about 10 volunteers helped her make it possible.

"They just did whatever I asked them to do," she said.

As she talked, volunteers a short distance away helped at a booth for Emanuel Temple's Outreach Ministry, giving away free clothes to whoever needed them.

Minister Cynthia Sanders ran the booth, assisted by volunteers such as Tammy Ranaldi and Gwendolyn Alexander.

Cynthia Sanders said she intended to try to give away all of the clothes at the booth.

"I have so much more," she said, explaining that 25 local stores donate clothes to help keep the effort going. The church also has an active food ministry, she said.

Over at the Sandusky Police Department booth, Lt. Chris Hofacker asked Asia Wiggins, 6, "Do you like things that glow in the dark?"

Asia politely told him he does, so Hofacker handed her a drinking cup that glows and provides children with an anti-drug slogan, "Drugs kill dreams."

Asia also walked away from the booth with a "magic pencil" that changes shades when it's rubbed. She said she had enjoyed munching hot dogs and chips.

"We just wanted to come down and represent and show our support," said her mother, Natasah Wiggins of Sandusky.

Hofacker, who handles public relations for the department, also was giving away coloring books, crayons, erasers, temporary tattoos, refrigerator magnets and stickers.

The Sandusky Underground Railroad Education Center took visitors on a trolley tour to teach about Sandusky's role in helping slaves escape to freedom, and sold $1 lottery tickets. The center's Saturday tours continue for much of the rest of the summer.

Elijah Hunter, 6, Sandusky, was more interested in modern heroes. With help from Sandusky's fire marshal, Rudy Ruiz, Elijah donned protective pants, a coat, boots and a helmet as Ruiz explained that firemen waking up the middle of the night have two minutes to dress and get their gear ready.

"I want to be a fireman," said Elijah, who insisted the bulky coat didn't feel hot or heavy.