ORLANDO, Fla. – Nearly 156 years after Juneteenth was first celebrated in Texas, the United States government will recognize it as a federal holiday.
In Orlando, many people are celebrating Juneteenth by supporting black-owned businesses. It’s part of an annual scavenger hunt called Black Friday Orlando designed to also reflect on history.
Event Organizer Knakeesha Samuels said people can register online for the second annual scavenger hunt at blackfridayorlando.com. They can then take historical challenges to learn about the history of Juneteenth from 9 a.m.-9 p.m., and they can choose to support the more than 65 black-owned businesses across Central Florida.
There’s also a Big Vendor Fair at 6 p.m. on Church Street near the Amway Center.
“They can either do the challenges, or they also get points just for going to the businesses and scanning the code from the signage that we put out,” Samuels said. “The signage will be outside the businesses, and they just go up, they scan the code.”
She told News 6 there are also prizes involved.
“My favorite part is whoever wins the scavenger hunt, they get to choose one business to give a grant to.”
Restaurant owner Patrice Phillips knows the history of Juneteenth and said she believes more people should know about it, too. Her restaurant is one of many on the scavenger hunt list.
“It still impacts our life - so the more we get to talk about it, we get to take people through that journey of what we go through,” Phillips said, owner of Something Fishy in Altamonte Springs. “I think it’s so important that we have these moments throughout the year, all the time that we revisit history.”
It is welcome news for many businesses especially after 2020 was much different.
Glen Providence at Smile Ice Cream and Hebni Nutrition in West Orlando welcomes the business Friday.
“Over the years I think Juneteenth has grown more in visibility and scope,” Providence said.
He said he’s taking Juneteenth to reflect on history, but he’s also finding ways to give back.
“Organizations can come here and take that next step into launching their business just like I did with Smile Ice Cream,” Providence said.