BUFFALO, N.Y. — After two long years, finally Juneteenth celebrations are returning in-person.
At Enterprise Charter School, students gathered in the parking lot to sing songs and dance.
"This is the entire school right now. We got everybody out, and we're having a good time. We're so excited," superintendent Jordan Schmidt said.
The excitement came in drumming and dancing to celebrate freedom for more than 157 years, not having to be six feet apart, and for students to have a moment of healing after May 14.
"It was an adjustment. It was an adjustment for sure. They had a lot of questions," Schmidt said. "We just kept telling each other we were going to come together, and that we were going to heal together and that we're all a community."
The moment was one of the first times some parents are seeing their kids smile lately.
"They're outside and not scared and I guess that's what we want. We want our kids to feel safe at school and this is how it starts, doing stuff like this," said Adrian Morrow, a parent to three kids at Enterprise Charter. "We need to come together."
From downtown Buffalo to the East Side, everyone is coming together. Community Access Services brought vendors and resources together to kickoff Juneteenth on Bailey Avenue.
"We believe that the events that occurred on May 14 were meant to create fear for the community. We're here to let the community know we're not going to live in fear," said Kim Brown, executive director of Community Access Services.
Buffalo Police are stepping up their security for the weekend festivities.
"We will be present. We always are but we will be even more present. We've increased our staffing for this. There will be things you see, things you don't see," said Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia. "Come out and celebrate. Come out to the festival. Don't let hate win."
Hate will never win in Buffalo.
"We expect an extremely large turnout. We expect thousands and thousands of people," said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.
Because on Juneteenth, united we will stand.
"I'm certainly encouraging every resident of Buffalo and Western new York that wants to come out to come out and celebrate Juneteenth," Brown said.