Juneteenth celebration scheduled in Newark abruptly canceled due to permitting issues

The highly anticipated event was supposed to be held in Branch Brook Park on Sunday.

Matt Trapani and Eliecer Marte

Jun 16, 2023, 2:33 AM

Updated 345 days ago


A Juneteenth celebration scheduled for Sunday in Newark was suddenly canceled – angering many of the organizers.
The highly anticipated event was supposed to be held in Branch Brook Park.
“May 17 is when we had our walkthrough of the park,” says Stevens “Showcase” Germain.
Germain is with the organization Juneteenth NJ. He says that the Essex County Parks Department gave the organization the green light to move forward and start promoting the event.
But Essex County officials say that even though Juneteenth NJ did fill out an application, it never got a permit.
Germain says that the group had about 9,000-10,000 people RSVP for the event – much more than Essex County officials say they were anticipating.
“They said on their application they were only going to have between 3,000 and 5,000 people come to the event,” says Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo.
But DiVincenzo says that he was told that the event could have actually attracted up to 20,000 people.
County leaders also claim that the organization never presented security, maintenance or parking plans until the last minute.
“We did receive their insurance, but it was from a third party. It wasn’t actually from them,” DiVincenzo says. “When you’re talking about this many people, you can’t put on an event in six to eight weeks.”
Germain alleges that in addition to having to pay at least $30,000 in fees, the organization was given unrealistic deadlines.
Essex County Administrator Robert Jackson says that they asked the group if the event could be moved to a different day and limit the hours but were told Juneteenth NJ could not do that.
“We put all into creating a magical experience,” Germain says.
The group says that they do not have a backup plan. Essex County officials say that there will be different Juneteenth events happening throughout the county.

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