BUFFALO N.Y. (WIVB) — As the Juneteenth parade returns in Buffalo, for the first time in two years, it comes as many try to bring more equality, following the mass shooting at Tops.

“Spirits high, a lot of children out, but there’s a sense of remembrance and a sense of reflection on the act of domestic terrorism that occurred in the city of Buffalo on the 14th of May,” said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.

People from all over Buffalo are coming together this weekend to celebrate Juneteenth. Things kicked off with a parade down Genesee street Saturday morning, followed by a gathering at MLK park with local food and artisans.

“I love it. I love it. The pandemic took it away, for about two and a half years but I’m glad we’re back. We’re thriving, we’re overcoming our obstacles, and enjoying each other,” said Latrice Lauer, who attended Juneteenth celebrations at MLK Park Saturday afternoon.

Juneteenth celebrates African American freedom and the education and accomplishments of the men and women who lived during slavery.

“Once again we’re gathering together, celebrating the freedoms of black and brown people all across the world and especially in the United States of America,” said Buffalo resident Ahmad Randell. “Though we have a long way to go, we still are celebrating what we have accomplished thus far.”

After the racist tops shooting last month in Buffalo, people celebrating Juneteenth saying coming together like this again was important.

“We’re never going to forget the events that happened but this is a celebration of joy and while we remember them, we still, as people who are still here, we have the opportunity to celebrate the life that we do have and the future of our community,” said Buffalo resident Nia Bronner. “While you’re celebrating, while you’re taking off. Take this time to remember, all that has happened. How far we’ve come and how far we still have to go.”

“Especially right now we need this,” said Henry Jemison, who drove from Jamestown N.Y. to attend the Juneteenth Parade. “We need to try to embrace this and celebrate and comfort ourselves to get through some of that pain and we do it by celebration and music and that’s how we should do this.”

Organizers from the Buffalo Urban League say that today is a day of renewed hope and that despite the challenges the community has faced, they’re stronger together.

Juneteenth celebrations continue throughout Western New York tomorrow, including the first-ever Juneteenth parade in Niagara Falls. The parade will be on Main Street starting at 2:15 p.m. from the Niagara Falls Public Library at Main St. and Portage Road down to 715 Main Street at the steps of City Hall.

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Sarah Minkewicz is an Emmy-nominated reporter from Buffalo, N.Y. who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here and follow her on Twitter.