Juneteenth Event in Kennesaw Celebrates Unity

Kennesaw Police Chief Bill Westenberger smiles after being dunked in water by a group of children at the fourth annual “Unity in the Community: A Juneteenth Celebration of Unity” event on Saturday at Swift-Cantrell Park in Kennesaw.

Credit: ZEKE PALERMO

Credit: ZEKE PALERMO

Kennesaw Police Chief Bill Westenberger smiles after being dunked in water by a group of children at the fourth annual “Unity in the Community: A Juneteenth Celebration of Unity” event on Saturday at Swift-Cantrell Park in Kennesaw.

KENNESAW — Several hundred people came out to the fourth annual “Unity in the Community: A Juneteenth Celebration of Unity” on Saturday at Swift-Cantrell Park.

The event, hosted by the Kennesaw Police Department and the Kennesaw Police Department Citizens’ Advisory Board, featured a “unity walk” around the park as well as games, music, food, and a chance to dunk Police Chief Bill Westenberger in water.

It celebrated Black history and multicultural diversity, and, according to Westenberger, acts as a bridge between the Kennesaw community and police department.

“People aren’t calling the police because they’re having a good day,” he said. “This gives us a platform to interact in a good way when things aren’t like that. There’s no tension.”

After George Floyd was slain by a police officer in 2020 in Minneapolis, Westenberger and Rod Green, a pastor at One Church ATL in Marietta, started the Citizens’ Advisory Board to act as a bridge between the people of Kennesaw and local police.

It quickly proposed a Juneteenth event, a holiday that Green said is about “celebrating that we are all one.

“Juneteenth is a celebration of us all coming together,” he said. “It’s a celebration of everyone’s freedoms. That’s what the message is, and that’s what this event is about.”

KPD and the Citizens’ Advisory Board held its first Juneteenth celebration in 2021 at Kennesaw First Baptist Church, where it was held for the first two years. It moved to Swift-Cantrell Park in 2023.

Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19 to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. It was made a federal holiday in 2021 and falls on a Wednesday this year.

Attendees came from across Cobb County, but most were local to the area, including Kennesaw resident Darolyn Flaggs.

“To be able to look around and see folks that look like me and advocates that don’t look like me all coming together for one cause, it’s phenomenal,” she said. “It’s a step in the right direction, trying to build that collaboration between (the police and the Kennesaw community).”

Flaggs won a potato sack race, which she competed in alongside her niece Grace Boone. The afternoon also included a dance competition, rounds of musical chairs, and Juneteenth and Black history trivia.

Those who got questions right during the trivia competition won three throws at a dunk tank with Westenberger inside.

“I don’t have any problem with it,” Westenberger said, “it’s always a hot day.”