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Juneteenth parade steps its way to MLK Park

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Drill teams stomped their way down Genesee Street in Buffalo this morning, making their way to Martin Luther King Jr. Park for the 35th annual Juneteenth Festival.

Among the groups showcased in the parade were local marching bands, political groups, and the Boys and Girls Club of Buffalo.

But the step teams stole the show.

"I like the drill teams and the step teams," said Shaquata Hennings of Goodyear Avenue. "The kids, the kids, the kids."

The Tillman sisters come to the festival to scope out the stepping field.

We came to the Juneteenth because we wanted to see everybody drill and just see the competition," said Melissa and Tiliyah Tillman, who steps for her school team.

"I came out to support my granddaughter," said Mrs. Sullivan, whose granddaughter Amarih Sullivan was drilling for the Dynamic Divas team.

Whether it's drilling, passing out flyers, making music, or just watching the parade pass by, festival goers agreed that it's a sense of pride that brings the people together to celebrate.

James T. Brunson estimates he's been coming to the parade for 20 years. "Ever since I've known about it," he said. "It makes you feel proud."

"It brings everybody together a little bit," said Brian Ray, who was sitting on the sidewalk with his son. "You know, every year Allentown [Festival] be going on. You've got to have something for this community too."

The festival continues today and tomorrow until 8 p.m. in Martin Luther King Jr. Park. The event's featured performer, LaTonya Blige, is the older sister of Mary J. Blige, and will lead praise and worship services starting at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

For more information on the festival, visit juneteenthofbuffalo.org.

Here's a video of some of the step teams performing in the parade:

--Lauren Nicole Mariacher

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