News & Stories
2023 Juneteenth Fun Run
What a day filled with joy! On Saturday, June 17 The Loppet was excited to host our inaugural Juneteenth Fun Run! The Juneteenth Fun Run featured a 5K race and half mile fun run and honored beloved North Minneapolis elders, Bill and Beverly Cottman.
Juneteenth is the commemoration of the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. The federal holiday recognizes that even though the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1862, it took two and a half more years for all enslaved people to be freed. Despite gaining federal recognition in 2021 and an official state declaration in 2023, Juneteenth celebrations have taken place across the country for decades. In fact, Theodore Wirth Park was home to one of the largest!
The first organized Juneteenth event in Minnesota was in 1985, starting as a small poetry reading in the basement of the Oak Park Neighborhood Center in Minneapolis. Over the next few years, the celebration evolved into a multi-day festival packed with a parade, live entertainment, a 5k run, a plethora of food and art vendors, booths occupied by local organizations and businesses, and community education. You could also find a health and wellness fair lining the Wirth Lake Pavillion with exhibitors offering immunizations for children, diabetes risk assessments, blood pressure testing, glaucoma and vision screenings, and sexual wellness resource distribution.
At its peak, Juneteenth festivities in the park attracted over 25,000 attendees from around the state. Within a decade the celebration had become one of the largest cultural gatherings in Minnesota. What made the Minneapolis celebration stand out and attract so many people was the indescribable atmosphere that fostered cross-cultural community building. It was a weekend when folks of all backgrounds would come together to celebrate freedom, learn from one another, and share joy.
Today, Juneteenth celebrations can be found all around the Twin Cities, and with the recent federal and state recognition, they’re only expected to grow. The Loppet is honored to have hosted a celebration in collaboration with our community partners this year with the inaugural Juneteenth Fun Run! It’s humbling to look back and appreciate what community organizers created in Theodore Wirth nearly four decades ago. The connections and experiences shared back then paved the way for today’s commemorations.
We thank everyone who came out to celebrate Juneteenth and honor the Cottman’s with us!
All photos by Lawrence Pry.
Juneteenth is the commemoration of the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. The federal holiday recognizes that even though the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1862, it took two and a half more years for all enslaved people to be freed. Despite gaining federal recognition in 2021 and an official state declaration in 2023, Juneteenth celebrations have taken place across the country for decades.
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Wascoe, D.,Jr, & Writer, S. (1994, Jun 16). Juneteenth expands its free health fair: [METRO Edition]. Star Tribune
Washington, W., & Writer, S. (1996, Jun 15). Juneteenth marks slavery’s end, but do effects remain?: [METRO Edition]. Star Tribune