Unity Festival in Gulfport celebrates 15th anniversary
GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - A big milestone was reached Saturday in Gulfport as the Unity Festival celebrated its 15th anniversary in the historic “Quarters.”
It’s an event that gets bigger and better as it gets older.
“You know, the people look so forward to it ever year, and they’re excited about it,” said festival founder and president Cassandra Harper Walton. “I think if it was not to exist anymore, the community would be very sad.”
Walton estimated that about 2,500 people came to the historic neighborhood in West Gulfport, and for a good reason.
“As African Americans, our culture and our heritage has been lost because we don’t get together, we don’t have these conversations,” said Alexis Williams of Gulfport, who was recently crowned Ms. Black Gulf Coast. “And the fact that we can come here every year, it means everything.”
A 60-unit parade is a good way to help bring it all in.
“I look forward to it every year,” said Terrie Fleming, pastor of Faith Outreach Ministry in Gulfport. “I love it: all the different food, fellowship, the music, the parade. I love it!”
But there’s more to it.
“I think it helps everybody forget for the moment,” Fleming said. “Because at the Unity Fest, everybody reverts back to being a little child because there’s so much food, so many activities, the parade. You get to see people you haven’t seen in a long time.”
Paul Noble is all about motorcycles. But on this day, his parade car is all about his son, Paul Nobel Jr., who was shot to death about eight years ago.
Despite that tragedy, he believes this festival achieves its purpose.
“I really do because everybody’s coming together,” Noble said. “You know what I mean? Everybody’s coming together as a family. And they support. Everybody’s really supportive, and that’s what it’s all about. Support. Me bringing my son out to show everybody, hey, he was a good kid, but made some bad choices. But we know God’s got him now.”
The event also drew more than 60 vendors selling everything from food to arts and crafts.
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