The Spice of Life Foundation and the NAACP Lancaster Branch host their fourth-annual Juneteenth celebration featuring food, music, games, and education about the holiday at Lancaster County Central Park in Lancaster, Pa. on Saturday June 19, 2021.

Lancaster County government will close for a day next year in observance of Juneteenth, joining the state and federal governments in formally commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

The Lancaster County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved Juneteenth as part of its 2022 holiday schedule, which now includes 11 federal holiday observances for the next year. 

In June, Congress overwhelmingly approved Juneteenth -- or June 19 -- as a federal holiday. In 2022, June 19 falls on a Sunday so it will be observed on Monday, June 20.

Juneteenth is celebrated as the country’s actual end of slavery, more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. On June 19, 1866, the last group of enslaved people in Texas learned of the proclamation and their freedom.

Commissioner Ray D’Agostino said at the board’s work session Tuesday that recognizing the holiday would be appropriate in Lancaster County, which is home to the Christiana Resistance and abolitionist Congressman Thaddeus Stevens.

D’Agostino and Commissioner Josh Parsons both said they were hesitant to recognize the holiday, due to the growing number of federal holidays. All three of the commissioners, including Commissioner Craig Lehman, supported recognizing the holiday at the board meeting on Wednesday.

To make up for another paid holiday, Parsons said the county will likely need to reconsider whether it can offer its employees half days off leading into the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, like it has traditionally done. 

“My only hesitancy is that the list of holidays for which the government takes a day off continues to seem to grow, we’re at 11,” D’Agostino said Tuesday. “There are more events and people throughout our nation’s history in the past, and let alone the future (to recognize), so I’m concerned where that could be heading. Let’s face it, we have to remember that our work and our positions are owed to our constituents, the taxpayers, who may not get as many holidays.” 

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