BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- The Bay Area is celebrating freedom on this Juneteenth holiday, commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. In the East Bay, there were celebrations and festivals marking the significant day.
Berkeley's 35th Annual Juneteenth celebration was back on Adeline Street after a two year pandemic pause.
"Now it gets to the point where people don't have to ask, 'what is Juneteenth?' We all know what we're celebrating and we're just happy about it," said festival co-host Jay Rich.
Juneteenth became a National Holiday in 2021, commemorating the end of slavery in America. Irvin Smith was here to take it all in.
"It means us having a day for us and our people and all the struggles we've been through, and just rejoicing in life getting better," said Smith.
"All of our clothes were made in Nigeria, benefiting local communities where they're made," said boutique owner Lola Oladigbolu.
The festival was a chance for small business owners like Oladigbolu to shine.
"Just seeing at the bank Juneteenth is a national holiday, just feels like more visibility," she said.
In Oakland, Lake Merritt was celebrating Juneteenth in a big way. Richard Johnson was talking to his grandson about why the day is so important.
"We need to have more days like this where everyone can let go, feel free," Johnson said.
There were extra police officers on duty and street closures around the lake, near the scene of gun violence at last year's festival where one man was killed.
"Stop the killings, put the guns down," said pastor Harry Williams.
Oakland chef Dion Green wants to move forward and focus on what's good.
"We hope to continue in the future, to keep it going so this festival gets bigger and bigger, keep it positive and safe for everybody," Green said.
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