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Hudson Valley Press

June 4th, 2008

African-American Day Parade

Michael Ellis, Ourelian Haley, Richard Peterson, and Natasha Cotton (seated).

Newburgh - Natasha Cotton has always been a doer. So when Charlie Parker came to her with the idea of having an African-American parade in the City of Newburgh, she immediately jumped on board.

The pair wanted to create a festive atmosphere where people could come together and have a good time. She recruited Ourelian Haley, Alma Garrick, Michael Ellis, Chuck Thomas, Richard Peterson and Cindy Contes to form the parade and festival committee.

The group has been working diligently: recruiting volunteers, lining up entertainment, mapping out the parade route and getting vendors. "We would like to extend an invitation to the people and the communities of the Hudson Valley to participate in our festival," Cotton said.

While it is an African-American parade, Cotton says anyone can participate and she welcomes it with open arms. "We want this parade to highlight the diverse nature of the various communities in Newburgh, Cotton said.

The parade, scheduled for September 6th, will begin at noon. The parade will begin at South Junior High School, turn onto Renwick Street, up Liberty Street and conclude at Audrey Carey Park. There the activities will continue with a multi-cultural unity day celebration.

A special part of the day will be the "Tour of History" event. Throughout the day, people will be on hand to record oral histories. This collection will become part of the Newburgh Free Library’s archive collection. "We want our young people to know about and take pride in African-Americans from right here in Newburgh," Cotton said.

Noting the rich history that exists in the Hudson Valley, and in particular Newburgh, Cotton says it needs to be preserved before it is forgotten. Chuck Thomas has a sign up sheet in the library for those who want to schedule an appointment. The festival will also include "a look at the history of Newburgh’s past and present gems," via a historical slide show, according to Cotton.

The festival will feature live entertainment by Thomas G. Hickman, stilt dancers Mocko Jumbi from Georgia, motivational speakers, face painting for the kids, food and fun.

There are still some entertainment and vendor spots available, as the festival continues to 10 p.m. If you would like to volunteer, set up a table or booth, or entertain the crowd, call Ms. Cotton at 845-562-1857 for more information on Newburgh’s First African-American Day Parade in 27 year’s.

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Reader Response
  • R. Lee Gordon
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