The Missouri City Juneteenth Celebration Foundation will culminate its 2021 events with the 18th annual “One Mile of Smiles” parade followed by a concert in the park on June 19.

The parade route begins at 7 p.m. at 2440 Texas Parkway and concludes at Hunters Glen Park, located at 1340 Independence Blvd., Missouri City.

The Missouri City Juneteenth Celebration Foundation expects more than 2,000 people to watch the parade, which will feature marching bands, floats, exotic cars and motorcycles, horses and drum corps, according to the foundation’s website.

Following the parade, the community is welcome to gather at Hunters Glen Park for a concert with performers Jaye Hammer, Bel-Ami, Evette Busby, Kollette & Soultre, and Leroy Allen.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day a Union Major General Gordon Granger landed in Galveston with news that the Civil War had ended and slaves had been freed.

“It was the day that African Americans, particularly in the South found out that they were emancipated from being enslaved as African people,” Council Member Jeffrey Boney said. “This is a very important and sacred day, and something that should never be forgotten.”

The week of June 15-19 was recognized by City Council as Juneteenth Week during its June 7 meeting. Boney said the mission of the Missouri City Juneteenth Celebration Foundation is to bring awareness about the importance of the day to the greater community, regardless of race.

Don Smith, a former Missouri City council member, founded and chairs the foundation.

“We are extremely fortunate and grateful that this is our 18th year,” Smith said during the City Council meeting. “As a result of that we feel that we are probably one of the largest in the United States. We have five days of celebration.”

The Missouri City Juneteenth Celebration Foundation also held a kick-off reception June 11, a scholarship golf tournament June 14, and a community service awards gala on June 17.

A bill supported by a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers including U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, to make Juneteenth a federal holiday was signed into law by President Joe Biden June 17.