EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – The City of East St. Louis is celebrating 618 Day and Juneteenth at city hall.

The community came together and celebrated Juneteenth and 618 with a day packed with food and entertainment.

“We come together for some good things and it turns out to be a great day,” said Jason Blackmon, Fire Chief of the East St. Louis Fire Department.

East St. Louis Mayor Robert Eastern III says both 618 and Juneteenth are celebrations offer positive messages of hope to the greater East St. Louis community.

“This is the first time that the community and 618 Day and Juneteenth decided to do a collaboration. We had a lot of young people from our community say, ‘Hey mayor, we really want to do 618 Day,'” said Mayor Eastern. “It’s really good, it’s a feel-good moment right here in the City of East St. Louis. This is what we’ve been working on and waiting for as a city.”

Joining the celebrations was Ms. Opal Lee, who played a significant role in making Juneteenth a federal holiday.

“Ms. Opal Lee is considered the grandmother of Juneteenth. She was 86 years old in 2016. She walked from Fort Worth, Texas, to Washington, D.C. to help make this a federal holiday. So we tip our hats to her,” said Mayor Eastern.

Celebrations began with the Alpha Phi Alpha Juneteenth 5K Run/Walk at 9 a.m. at East St. Louis City Hall. After the 5K, a parade followed at 5th and State Street to 65th & State. 

At noon, East St. Louis hosted a Community Block Party at the Clyde C. Jordan Senior Center featuring a concert, 3-on-3 basketball tournaments, food trucks, bounce houses, face painting, community service, retail, and food booths.