As the nation celebrates Juneteenth, so too will residents of Palm Springs. But this year the celebration will be boosted by a moment many have waited to see for more than 150 years.
President Joe Biden officially signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law during a ceremony Thursday, turning a day also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day, into an official national celebration of the moment in 1865 that the last enslaved people in America learned of their freedom.
Organizers of past city celebrations, as well as new ones planned this weekend, say that while the country is still reeling from the effects of slavery, taking a day to celebrate that moment is important.
“The celebration started last year as our community held a picnic in the park,” said Brian Jackson, reflecting on last year’s celebration at the James O. Jessie Desert Highland Unity Center. “We started hearing that we would expect more than anticipated. We had excellent turnout and had fun!”
This year’s Juneteenth event, from Noon until 6 PM at the center — 480 Tramview Road — is expected to attract “double if not triple the attendance,” Jackson said. The crowd will be eager to reflect on the day, but also ready to simply enjoy the moment. Jackson said to expect free food, arts and crafts, over 20 informational booths, camel rides, and representatives from local businesses, the city, and school district.
“With all the evil going on around the world we were able to kick our feet up and relax and enjoy great food, music and activities in the park,” Jackson said of last year’s event. “Now that Juneteenth has become a federal and national holiday, we have taken pride in being one of the biggest and only Juneteenth celebration in our valley! We hope our celebration educates all communities and nationalities near and far.”
Saturday’s Juneteenth celebration at the unity center is not the only one planned in and near the city. Among other events scheduled:
- Brothers of the Desert will hold a celebration of the day, as well as a fundraiser, with the owner and wine maker of Tierra y Vino, beginning at 4 PM. That event, which includes wine tasting, paired food, and tasting notes, will be held at Bouschet, 611 S Palm Canyon Dr. Tickets are $45, and more information can be found here.
- Later that evening, Keisha D will mark the day with a special performance in nearby Cathedral City. She will be performing live at Frankie’s Old World Italian Bakery and Cafe, 68845 Perez Rd., starting at 5 PM. The performance will be streamed on the cafe’s Facebook page. “I’m so proud and excited to share the message of Juneteenth,” she wrote. “We give honor and celebrate those strong, powerful ancestors that paved the way for folks like me to have a blessed life.”
- Finally on Saturday, Palm Springs Cultural Center plans a showing of Moonlight at its drive-in experience at Camelot Theatres, 2300 E Baristo Rd. The drive-in opens at 6:30 PM. The film, which portrays Chiron, a young black man growing up in Miami, begins at 8:15 PM. Tickets can be purchased here
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AIRPORT UPDATES: Anyone arriving or departing Palm Springs International Airport will no doubt notice a few construction vehicles during their next visit. Airport officials said Thursday that work to replace aging jet bridges at the Sonny Bono Concourse began earlier this month. It is expected to be completed in December. The concourse comprises gates 4-11. It was first opened in 1999, 60 years after the airport was built as an emergency landing field. It is the only elevated concourse at the airport and serves all large aircraft.
RESTAURANT GETS AN A: A Palm Springs restaurant ordered closed on June 11 was reopened Thursday following a return inspection by the Riverside County Department of Environmental Health. El Patio, at 139 E. Andreas Rd., was rated an A, with a score of 90 points, after having resolved some earlier issues.
ROAD WORK: Work at the intersection of Sunrise Way and Tahquitz Canyon Way is scheduled today from 7 AM until 3:30 PM. Crews will be closing the inside southbound lane on Sunrise Way between Andreas Road and Tahquitz Canyon Way to begin landscape work in the new center median. All traffic control will be removed at the end of the day. Sunline bus stop 733 will be open and accessible during the work, however bus stop 048 will be relocated 150 feet to the west, while remaining open and accessible.
- AT MIZELL: The Mizell Center ends its week with a pair of events today, including an in-person “Fit After 50”class at 8 AM, and “Chair Yoga” at 1 PM.
- BOOK CLUB: Friends of the Palm Springs Library holds its book club at 2 PM via Zoom. To participate, please contact David Kelly by email [email protected] to get the Zoom meeting ID and password. People who send David an email will be added to the FOPSL Book Club email newsletter list. This month the club is discussing The Soul of America, by Jon Meacham.
- POWER BASEBALL: The Palm Springs Power plays tonight at Palm Springs Stadium, 1901 E. Baristo Rd. First pitch is at 7:05PM. A complete schedule is available here.
- FARMERS MARKET: The Palm Springs Farmers market is open Saturdays from 8 AM until 12:30 PM, and has moved indoors for the summer. It’s located inside the Palm Springs Pavilion, 401 S. Pavilion Way. More information can be found here.
- FLEA MARKET: A flea market and food fest is held today through Sunday at 675 Crossley Rd. The venue will be open from 5PM-10PM all weekend and continues with those hours every Friday and Saturday through September. Information can be found here.
- BRUNCH: Multiple venues offer drag brunch, champagne brunch, and more on weekends. View a complete list here.
- LIVE MUSIC: Many live music events are posted on this Facebook page, maintained by two Palm Springs residents since 2015.
- POWER BASEBALL: The Palm Springs Power plays Saturday at Palm Springs Stadium, 1901 E. Baristo Rd. First pitch is at 7:05PM. A complete schedule is available here.
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