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Skating in Scranton to celebrate Juneteenth

 Skaters make their way around the outdoor skate rink as seen under a disco ball.
Aimee Dilger
Skaters make their way around the outdoor skate rink as seen under a disco ball.

With a surface of black and white tiles, a disco ball and a shelf of skates in all sizes, the Black Scranton Project’s parking lot transformed into a roller skating rink for a day to celebrate Juneteenth.

“Historically, skating has been something that’s very popular in the Black culture,” said founder and CEO Glynis Johns. “I just thought, hey, I love to skate, why not skate with my community and friends?”

Johns spent most of Saturday’s Juneteenth Skate Party on wheels of her own, spinning and gliding on the pop-up rink that was the centerpiece of the party.

 Black Scranton Project founder Glynis Johns sk
Black Scranton Project founder Glynis Johns skates on the pop-up rink at the Juneteenth Skate Party.

Food trucks and vendors surrounded the rink, and the block party was open all day.

Juneteenth has only been recognized as a federal holiday since 2021, but has been celebrated for decades. It commemorates the day in 1865 when news of emancipation and the Union’s victory over the Confederacy finally reached enslaved people in Galveston, Texas.

For Johns, celebrating Juneteenth is about taking pride in her heritage and allowing others to do the same.

“As a Black, Scrantonian woman, I know there wasn’t a lot here that made me feel proud of my culture and my heritage,” she said. “So I’m excited that I can bring that to Scranton and instill a little bit of something for these kids.”

The party was busy throughout the day with people skating, eating, jumping rope and visiting the vendor tents from organizations such as the local NAACP and the NEPA Youth Shelter.

Malcolm Duncan sat at the edge of the festivities Saturday afternoon. He said he’s too old to skate, but the former Philadelphia resident was glad to see a busy Juneteenth event in his new hometown of Scranton.

“It’s good they’re giving this thing in Scranton,” he said. “The people got together, the NAACP and the Black Scranton Project got together and had Juneteenth.”

Sarah Scinto is the local host of All Things Considered on WVIA. She is a Connecticut native and graduate of King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, and has previously covered Northeastern Pennsylvania for The Scranton Times-Tribune, The Citizens’ Voice and Greater Pittston Progress.