IDEA Troy plans Juneteenth cookout, concerts


By Matt Clevenger

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TROY — IDEA Troy will celebrate Juneteenth with a series of special events on Friday, June 16, and Saturday, June 17, including musical performances by the Paisha Thomas Quintet and the LYD Band, a community walk with TRSS Drum Corp and a free cookout that will be held at McKaig and Race Park.

The Juneteenth celebrations will start at the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, with a performance by the Paisha Thomas Quintet followed by the opening of the “Celebrate Freedom” art exhibit featuring works by Troy students.

“This year, the kick-off event is happening at the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center,” IDEA Troy president Tre Heflin-King said. “Troy-Hayner is partnering with the Juneteenth Committee to make this happen; it’s a joint effort.”

Thomas is a descendent of the Randolph Freedpeople, Heflin-King said.

“The Randolph Freedpeople were a group of slaves from Virginia,” he said. “Once their original master died, he had arranged for them to be freed, and had some land supposedly set aside for them here in Ohio. They eventually made their way from Virginia up through Ohio and settled in the Troy and Piqua area here.”

“Paisha Thomas is originally from the area; she is a singer, writer and pretty much a jack-of-all-trades,” he said. “She and her family have a very rich history here in the Miami Valley area.”

Juneteenth events on Saturday, June 17, will include a community walk starting at Hobart Food Equipment, 701 S. Ridge Ave. at 3 p.m. and a free cookout at McKaig and Race Park from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

“It all starts off with what we call our Juneteenth Community Walk,” Heflin-King said. “We will be meeting in the parking lot of Hobart Food Equipment Group, and we’ll do an escorted walk through the community by the Troy Police Department and a drum line called the TRSS band.”

“The walk starts at 3 p.m.,” he said. “We plan on lining up around 2:30 p.m., and then making our way to McKaig and Race Park.”

Free hamburgers, hot dogs and samples of Kona Ice will be provided. Games and booths from local organizations will also be available.

“We’ll be grilling some free food; Kona Ice will be there,” Heflin-King said. “We’re going to have a game truck there, as well as other games at the park. There will be various booths from organizations in and around Troy.”

“We’ll have an encore performance by Paisha Thomas, she’ll be doing a solo performance at the park,” he said. “We also have a group called LYD. They will be performing various songs; some originals, some popular hits on the radio.”

This year will be the city’s third annual Juneteenth celebration. The holiday was originally started by the Troy Human Relations Commission (HRC) in 2020, and is now organized by IDEA Troy.

“Back in 2020, the Troy HRC wanted to do something in the community after everything that was going on around George Floyd,” Heflin-King said. “The Troy HRC actually put on the first ever Juneteenth celebration; after that, it kind of turned over to volunteers in the community.”

Sponsors for this year’s celebrations include the United Way of Miami County, Troy Aquatic Park, Troy-Miami County Public Library, Troy Main Street, Troy HRC, the Troy Foundation, Hobart Brothers Food Equipment Group, Richard’s Chapel, Troy-Hayner Cultural Center, KSD Insurance, Smith’s Boathouse, Moeller Brew Barn, Alvetro Orthodontics and Michelle Hobart.

“IDEA Troy is still a relatively new organization,” Heflin-King said. “It stands for inclusion, diversity, equity advocates of Troy.”

“We have the Juneteenth Committee, the MLK planning team, the Troy Freedom Chasers, and we have a diversity awareness team as well,” he said.

IDEA Troy is still seeking additional volunteers to help with this year’s event, or with planning next year’s celebrations.

“We’re always looking for people to be a part of the committee, help volunteer or help plan,” Heflin-King said. “We could always use help.”

“We definitely have a need for volunteers during the event on Saturday; mainly to help pass out the food,” he said. “Nothing too intense; they are free to volunteer for the whole event, but really we only ask for one or two hours of their time.”

More information on the Juneteenth celebration events can be found online, through the IDEA Troy or Troy Juneteenth Facebook pages.

“The way I see it, June 19, 1865, is really when we started down that path of true freedom for everybody,” Heflin-King said. “The celebration of freedom is the celebration of what the United States stands for.”

“I think that’s for everybody,” he said. “For all those people who may be on the outside looking in, and have some preconceived notions, I’d say come see it for yourself and really see what it’s about.”

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