Hundreds of Juneteenth vendors prepare for weekend heat

ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Juneteenth, which commemorates the day when slaves in Galveston, Texas, learned they were finally free, is this weekend and Atlanta is planning to celebrate.

Vendors and spectators who spoke to CBS46 say the Juneteenth Parade at Centennial Olympic Park on Saturday will be full of flavor and history.

Juneteenth: What really happened?

“It stands for us. To give us something, to give something to stand for us. Our holiday. Forgive me for thinking it, but not a holiday the Europeans gave us. The Fourth of July is their holiday, this represents us,” a vendor said.

Juneteenth is now officially a citywide holiday in Atlanta. A total of 300 vendors who set up shop in the heart of Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park face a different struggle.

“It’s going to be like 95 to 97 degrees today so we’re just trying to stay cool and we are going to be here till 10 o’clock,” another vendor said.

Out of an abundance of caution, DeKalb County officials shut down similar Juneteenth celebrations.

”Atlanta got a different heat. You can’t beat the heat, you have to stay out of the sun,” a vendor said.

Willie Maclin said he knows all too well the toll this heat can take on vendors and spectators.

“I was exhausted and disorientated,” Maclin said.

Maclin said he crossed state lines from Tennessee into Georgia, “We’ve been so excited even on the road trip down.”

On Friday in scorching hot temperatures, Maclin set up his African apparel and jewelry shop Wuvors.

He told CBS46 he came up with a plan he’s sticking to.

“You have to stay hydrated. We’re staying focused. We’re doing what we came here to do and that makes a difference,” Maclin explained.

The Juneteenth festival features music, delicious food, and vendors Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, the festival will continue in the park.

The highly-anticipated parade will also take place Saturday featuring marching bands, floats, and dancers starting at Liberty Plaza and finishing out at Centennial Olympic Park.

Atlanta’s official Juneteenth Celebration kicks off June 17 in downtown

Here is a list of the best areas to view the parade.

1.) 140 Decatur Street SE, Atlanta GA 30303 | CBS Broadcast and Performance Area

2.) Intersection at Decatur and Peachtree | Parade Midpoint

3.) Marietta Street and Centennial Olympic Park Drive

4.) Baker Street just past the Aquarium and Coca-Cola Museum | Grand finale and finish area Enter Centennial Olympic Park Across from Coca Cola museum entrance!

Tori Cooper

Tori Cooper

Tori Cooper comes to CBS46 from 23ABC in Bakersfield, California where she was a multimedia journalist and weekend morning anchor. Tori said she's excited to be back in Atlanta and looks forward to telling the stories of the people in Georgia.