Friends of Emancipation (FEP) Park surprised the children of Emancipation Park’s Summer Recreation Program with pizzas, a variety of delicious looking cupcakes, assorted juices and ice cream to celebrate the 142nd Birthday of the historical park founded by free slaves on July 19, 1872.
The birthday surprise had the children laughing, running and playing and guessing whose birthday celebration it was. “It’s her birthday,” one of the kids said while pointing at FEP President, Dorris Ellis. Then they all started laughing and telling her happy birthday and giving her big hugs. “No, no, no, it’s someone else’s birthday, someone that really enjoys have you all here,” she said with a huge smile.
After several more guesses by the eager children, the correct answer came hurdling out of a crowd of children surrounded by a couple of young adults who work at the park. “It’s Emancipation Park’s birthday,” the group shouted in unison. Some other curious children then asked,” How old is Emancipation Park?” The same group who guessed the birthday answer came up the age of the park, “142- years-old,” they rang out with merriment.
By this time, the kids were ready to move on to the good part of the Friends of Emancipation (FEP) Park surprised the children of Emancipation Park’s Summer birthday celebration; the yummy treats. They had to wait a few more minutes for one of the FEP volunteers, Rev. Robert Gilmore to bless the food. The kids then lined-up and made their way to the celebratory eats that they were to consume in style.
The tables popped with a cheerful display of color with bright chartreus tablecloths adorned with birthday theme confetti down the center of each table. It was a festive setting and the kids enjoyed it all as they sat down and ate and talked with each other.
Emancipation Park was originally purchased to celebrate the Texas Emancipation Holiday “Juneteenth.” Until the 1950s it was the only public park and swimming pool in Houston opened to African Americans.
Currently the park is under renovation. The 10-acre project will include refurbished landscapes, playgrounds and the renovation of the two historic buildings and the addition of a new building and plaza. The recreation center will be repurposed as a community center and the famous pool-house will be renovated and expanded all in the fall of 2015.
The new Emancipation Park will be an inter-woven tapestry of buildings and landscape that will celebrate the park’s rich history while embracing the present and future of its community.