Essex County News

Montclair African American Heritage Parade and Festival Held on Saturday

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MONTCLAIR, NJ - With partially cloudy skies, the Montclair African-American Heritage Foundation held its 29th Annual Parade and festival on Saturday.

Over 60 participants marched from Glenfield Park on Maple Avenue to the grandstand located on Cedar Avenue. 

Starting at 10:30 am, parade participants proceeded carrying flags, banners and balloons indicating their various organizations. 

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This years Grand Marshals included Montclair Grassroots and Montclair Child Development Center for over 50 years of service.

Representing the Township of Montclair, Mayor Robert Jackson was joined by members of the council, members of Montclair Board of Education led by newly hired superintendent Kendra Johnson, State Senator Nia Gill, Freeholder  Board President Brendon Gill and Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake. 

Highlights from the parade included the reunion of the Saint Paul Baptist Church Soul Sensations Marching Drill Team reuniting after 40 years.

Tonya Williamson said, "We practiced at Saint Paul's Baptist Church in getting ready for the parade. We are not as young as we use to be." 

Arriving at the grand stand, parade participants were introduced by Audrey Fletcher-Lee and Lonnie Brandon, past Grand Marshals and founders of the parade.

Immediately following the parade, attendees gathered at Nishuane part for the festival.

Entering the park, attendees were greeted by a fleet of classic cars and the thunderous sound of Hillside School's Sounds of Thunder preforming in front of the tennis court field house, while more than 78 vendors presented their wares along with food vendors in the center field. 

Children's activities included a video game truck, bouncy house, rock climbing, horseback riding and a petting zoo.

Brandon and Co-Chair of the MAAHF Bonnie Taylor opened the festival with the pouring of the libations, an African tradition to celebrate the  ancestors. 

Brandon commented saying, "The pouring of the libations is an important part of the festivities, it reminds of what our ancestors have gone through and [also to] give thanks." 

Performances included Adarian Sneed, who sang an A Capella version of "Lift Every Voice and Sing."

Also performing, were gospel group Vessels of Praise, singers Anonymous and Dawn Tallman. DJ sets were fostered by DJ Hardcore, DJ Punch Zanzibar and  Sir Charles Dixon of WBLS .

As apart of the festival, the MAAHF announced this year's scholarship recipient Azza Bussey. To date, the scholarship committee has awarded over $30,000 to Montclair students attending college.

Closing out the festival, Taylor said,  "Thank you all for coming out and enjoying your day with us. We look forward to the 30th." 

For more information go to: www.maahf.org.

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