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Freedom Day Party Celebrated at the NBMAA Last Weekend

What is considered one of the most special nights of the year for New Britainites was observed on Friday, June 17 when the New Britain Museum of American Art hosted its annual gala Juneteenth Celebration. The modern architecture of the 43,000 sq. ft. Chase Family Building, constructed in 2006, served as the perfect venue for an event like this, whose patriotic roots are as American as all of the artwork in the museum itself.

Originally, Juneteenth was conceived as an official holiday in 36 states celebrating and honoring the abolishment of slavery and President Lincoln’s efforts to bring about the emancipation that ultimately ended the Civil War in 1865. Nowadays, Juneteenth has grown and snowballed, nationally and even worldwide, as a major recognition of freedom for anyone of any race, and our city has been paying tribute to the occasion since the new millennium began 11 years ago.

The museum’s invitations strongly suggested semi-formal black and white attire, and the symbolism behind that color scheme didn’t go unnoticed. However, the evening was not just a union of Caucasian and African-American people garbed in black suits and zebra-striped cocktail dresses. All of the city’s finest adult patrons of the arts, from all ethnic backgrounds, donning everything from designer jeans to rhinestones and silks, came together for a glamorous evening that, initially, was almost dampened (literally!) by lightning strikes and torrential downpours.

The nights festivities unfolded as follows — first, the appropriate opening remarks and short speeches by Juneteenth Committee chairpersons Paulette Fox and Alphonse Wright, who informed the dressy crowd about the brief history and meaning of the holiday, while also acknowledging the event’s sponsors, notably The American Savings Foundation, the Prudence Crandall Center and the school district of New Britain.

Then came the swanky cocktail party, delectable hors d’oeuvres courtesy of Jordan Caterers, and the whirling and twirling on the dance floor, courtesy of the music provided by Teresa Wright and her “Distinguished Gentlemen”. Primarily a swing dance and jazz ensemble, Wright and her musicians also set the house ablaze with a healthy mixture of disco classics from the glory days of Donna Summer and Tina Turner. Between the dancing and socializing, scrumptious jambalaya was being served, courtesy of Black-Eyed Sally’s. Nobody felt like leaving when 11 p.m. rolled around. To quote Ms. Fox “when we go home, we will start planning already for next year’s party”. Lets hope it’ll be as much fun as this one was.

For those readers new in town, or unfamiliar with the museum and its lengthy list of (almost daily) events and exhibitions, please visit nbmaa.org or call 860-229-0257.