Though the traditional “holiday season” will come to a close by year’s end, the Beaumont City Council is hoping to add more holiday celebrations to the city’s calendar.
At a vision workshop held Tuesday, the elected body brainstormed more ways to bring the community together.
“Some of the old and new events that we have in our city that we would either like to upgrade or make some changes to would be Veterans Day Parade, Juneteenth, multicultural festival, Fourth of July, Mardi Gras, Hispanic Independence Day, Beaulympics and Cajun Creole festival,” said Mayor Robin Mouton.
At-Large Council memberAJ Turner, who organized the vision meeting, said he prioritizes celebrating the diversity of the city’s residents. He recognizes that Fourth of July is not the only celebration of freedom, and he wants to see the same fervor brought to other similar events.
This year’s 20th-annual Beaumont Juneteenth celebration took place after Pres. Joe Biden declared the day that slaves in Galveston learned of the Emancipation Proclamation a national holiday. But still, Turner felt disappointed.
“When you show up for the Fourth of July, you see Hispanics, you see Blacks and whites, you see a nice variety of everyone,” Turner said. “When you show up for Juneteenth, you only see Blacks. I want it to be so diverse that every race feels comfortable being there to learn about African-American culture, heritage, and history.”
Hispanic heritage, too, is important to Turner because the city is 17% Hispanic, he said.
“The city of Beaumont has to do better,” he said. “We have Juneteenth, we have Fourth of July, but we have nothing for the Hispanic population.”
Situated on the Louisiana border, the considerable Cajun influence in Beaumont also begs for its own festival.
“I would imagine food and music,” Ward IV Council member Chris Durio speculated about the event. “Probably something like Oktoberfest but with a Creole theme.”
And even Oktoberfest could see updates. Ward II Councilmember Mike Getz raised the idea of increasing the length of the German cultural celebration from a few hours to two days since the event is so popular.
“That may or may not be too taxing on our staff,” Getz commented after the meeting. “I just think it’s so much work to put it together that to limit it to just a few hours on one day is, you know, unfortunate.”
Getz said Beaumont’s Jewish population, of which he is a part, is likely too small to have a city-wide event of their own, but they would be a perfect fit for a proposed multicultural festival.
In general, a new multicultural festival is a way Turner is hoping the city can bring together all races and ethnic groups.
“You have Chinese foods and jerk chicken, African food and you have the tacos,” he mused. “You bring in every culture together to celebrate one another. And I think that would help with some of our barriers and walls we have. We want the communities mixing with each other.”
Finding a way to do that is something the council is going to have to set aside dedicated time for discussing and planning.
“We’re going to do a workshop,” Mouton said, noting that as December approaches, they are running out of days to host that workshop this year. “Probably (in the) first quarter of 2022, we could look at doing a workshop on the input from citizens to see what type of things you would like to see in the city on this specific topic.”
Written by Rachel Kersey