WACO, TX — Central Texans gathered in downtown Waco on Saturday morning for the city's annual Juneteenth parade.
The parade began near Heritage Square on Washington St. and made its way north to Wibert Austin Park on Hood St.
Waco Police Chief, Dr. Sheryl Victorian, served as the parade's grand marshal. Chief Victorian is the first woman and the first African American to serve as Waco's chief of the police department.
"Being the first African American, female police chief, yes it's a historic event, but it's also an opportunity for me to inspire young women and young girls all across this city," Victorian said.
Members of Chief Victorian's family joined her at the parade.
"She's an excellent representative of not only our family but also our community and it's pleasure and an honor to see her lead as the grand marshal," said Dominique Boykins, Chief Victorian's niece.
Many parade attendees were excited to celebrate Juneteenth as a federal holiday for the first time.
"A long time coming, I suppose," parade attendee Elon Terrell. "It's a blessing, obviously, to have national recognition on this important day."
Terrell was also impressed with the community turnout for the event.
"It means that people care," he said. "It means that people want to celebrate--those that are African American, those that are not African American--that we're all a part of this journey together."
The holiday's history began in Texas, something that was not forgotten among those at the parade.
"It's a celebration, for me, of truth," Boykins said. "To know that it took approximately two years for the message of freedom to reach the enslaved people of Texas."
Other Waco events from the day included a post-parade celebration and vaccine clinic at Wilbert Austin Park and in the afternoon, a Juneteenth Family Fun Day at Brazos Park.