By James David

Killeen Daily Herald

The annual Juneteenth celebration kicked off Friday night in Killeen with a parade, music, food and camaraderie.

Today's events will start with a 10 a.m. church service at the Killeen Community Center and continue with free food and live bands all day.

"Juneteenth, let us celebrate the day when the Texas slaves found out they were freed," event coordinator Roosevelt Huggins said Friday. "It was 2 years after everyone else found out, so for us it has a special meaning."

Huggins said there would be a free barbecue after 12:30 p.m. today.

"It's all about us building good relationships in the community," he said.

Today's festivities will include music, free food, poetry stepping and singing.

Phyllis Jones, co-event coordinator, said the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People volunteers are celebrating the same way the slaves in Texas did in 1865, by starting the day off with a church service before eating.

The festivities include a health fair, horseback riding and miniature golf. All of the events are free.

Donations can be made on behalf of the NAACP to help with one of the five scholarships the chapter offers college students each year. For more information about the NAACP events, call (254) 286-9211.

The Word of Life Substance Abuse Center has events scheduled at the Killeen Civic Center. A youth rally will feature a series of performers, including a step show and drill team competition.

The event begins at 10 a.m., but concerts will continue throughout the day and into the night. The highlight of the event is an old-school gospel celebration in the evening, beginning at 6 p.m.

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