For the third year in a row, Pittsburgh’s African American Heritage Day Parade will take to neighborhood streets rather than Downtown. This year, the venue for the 31st annual event will be Manchester, with cheer teams, bands, motorcycles, dance teams, classic cars, fire engines, and bicyclists getting underway at 11 a.m., Aug. 25. on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Two years ago, after soliciting community feedback, parade organizers made two significant changes to the annual event, beginning by changing the date. Traditionally, the parade had been held during the first week of October. It was moved—first to late July, now August—primarily to lessen the chance of participants marching in cold and wet conditions.
“Yeah, we tried it in July, but that turned out to be a problem because all the marching band kids were still out for the summer and hadn’t started their cheer practice and band camps—and they can’t march until they’ve done that,” said parade committee member Shawn Hicks. “So, going forward we’re looking to do it on the last Saturday in August before school starts. We learn from our mistakes.”
They also decided to move the parade to a neighborhood that reflected the city’s Black heritage. For the last two years, it was held in the Hill District. This year and next, it will be in Manchester—and will be just part of the day-long activities scheduled for the neighborhood.
Prior to the parade, there will be a Healthy Ride bicycle tour through Manchester—riders who wish to register can also participate in the parade. The Healthy Ride starts at 10 a.m. at Manchester K-8, 1612 Manhattan St.
Unfortunately, said Hicks, longtime parade promoter African American Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Doris Carson Williams will not be taking part this year.
“No, she can’t be there. The move to August put it right when she takes her vacation,” he said. “She’s up at Martha’s Vineyard.”
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, state Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Brookline, state Rep. Jake Wheatley and Pittsburgh Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle are expected to take part in the parade.
The participants will follow a parade route down Pennsylvania Avenue, right on Manhattan Street, and right again on Juniata, and ending at Manchester Field, where immediately following the parade, a neighborhood Community Day celebration kicks off, with music by the Bill Henry band, food vendors, a backpack giveaway, and a special lifetime achievement tribute to Rev. Dr. James “Jimmy Joe” Robinson and his wife, Dr. Betty Robinson.
Other organizations and sponsors taking part in the parade include Marvel Squad Dance Team, Dream Dancers, Bold Black & Beautiful Nurses, Iota Phi Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., Sharon Flake, Danielle Howard, Patriot Home Care Inc., Port Authority of Allegheny County, Urban League Guild of Greater Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire, Otto Landscaping, UPMC, CCAC, the Black Political Empowerment Project, County Councilwoman Erika Strassburger, U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, and the Damage Dance Crew.
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