Juneteenth marked by music, dance and art at Allegheny RiverTrail Park in Aspinwall

A series of events at Allegheny RiverTrail Park will mark Juneteenth with music, dance and art.

The celebration begins June 17 with a dance class by Afro Love, a Sharpsburg-based group whose mission is to build bridges by sharing African culture.

Events culminate June 19 with a free concert by Let’s Groove Tonight, one of the nation’s most popular Earth, Wind & Fire tribute bands.

“Juneteenth is a holiday of progress,” ARP Board Member and Sharpsburg Councilwoman Kayla Portis said. “It is a celebration of the end of such a volatile part of history — slavery.”

Throughout the rest of the month, the park in Aspinwall will continue to honor the holiday with interactive artwork, and leaders welcome the public to participate.

Park founder Susan Crookston said visitors are invited to write their dreams for the country or a quote that inspires them, to “give voice to our collective hope for the future.”

Artwork displayed at the park includes a quilt with quotes from several historic figures, including Martin Luther King Jr., Maya Angelou and Desmond Tutu.

Members of the Fox Chapel Area High School Black Student Association have worked on the display.

“Silence isn’t peace,” said Gabby Uku, one of the association members. “It’s people comfortable with division.”

When the festivities kick off at 7 pm June 17, Afro Love will give one-hour dance lessons for $ 10. Events from 8 to 10 pm are free.

“I believe that to expose oneself to other cultures and traditions is a sure path to self-discovery,” dance instructor Melissa Jenkins said.

“You can learn about yourself and your interconnection with the world around you. It ’s truly a rich experience.”

The event is open to anyone who loves to dance or is interested in moving their body in fun ways, Crookston said.

When members of Let’s Groove Tonight hit the stage June 19, their elaborate instrumentals are sure to get people moving. Their show includes R & B covers of the original band’s best-known hits such as “September” and “Boogie Wonderland.”

Drummer Sal Richetti founded the Earth, Wind & Fire tribute band five years ago. The 11-member group travels the country, with frequent gigs along the East Coast. It is a favorite at Bloomfield’s annual Little Italy Days celebration.

Richetti said the band loves celebrating the original music as well as dance and outlandish outfits.

Before the concert, a special performance of “Lift Every Voice” — the Black National Anthem — will be sung by Karen Arrington.

Arrington performed in 2021 at Sharpsburg’s inaugural Juneteenth celebration in Kennedy Park, which was organized by Portis.

Portis said representation is important for all and works to educate others on the significance of Black history.

“Everyone’s voice should be heard,” Portis said. “That is why the Black National Anthem is so important, because it amplifies Black voices.”

Visitors are invited to bring a blanket and picnic to the concert. Food will be available for sale.

Crookston said the Juneteenth holiday is important to mark.

“We want the park to be a refuge and welcoming space for all,” she said.

Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tawnya at 724-226-7726, tpanizzi@triblive.com or via Twitter ..

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