VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A celebration of peace and freedom took place all weekend long at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.
The Boardwalk played host to a new event: "Juneteenth on the Beach," designed to make all feel welcome while celebrating freedom and unity.
Organizers of Juneteenth at the Beach told News 3's Anthony Sabella that they couldn't have had a better atmosphere for their event's first year, made even more special by the location.
"Us being here is our way of turning the tide and bringing the right kind of energy to the Oceanfront in a collaborative effort unifying the community," said David Leader of Team LAMB. (Tell Everyone Around Me, Love ALL My Brothers).
Leader and the rest of Team LAMB, the mentorship organization behind Juneteenth at the Beach, said they're proud to bring a celebration of unity to a place that, to some, has been anything but unifying until now.
Mayor Bobby Dyer says this event is a big part of changing things.
"This is going to be a legacy event for the city. We want this to happen every year," Dyer said. "We want that feeling of positivity out at the Oceanfront so people know that they're welcome here."
Dyer joined others on the stage for a performance of "Lift Every Voice and Sing." All the while, Black-owned small businesses also got a lift — a sunny spotlight on the busy Boardwalk.
"I think it's a little bit of a change in the area here, so I think moving forward we can all just integrate and start building a better relationship so we can all work together," said Kendall Lawson with Three Scooops Clothing.
"I love being Black, I love that Juneteenth has become nationally acknowledged," added Devyn Casey with Devyn Lauren Designs & Vibe by Design. "It's great, so super cool to be out here."
And the folks here told News 3's Anthony Sabella that this year's event was such a success, they're already planning and getting ready for their second year.