AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – The town common in Amherst entertained a massive crowd Sunday afternoon, celebrating the newest federal holiday, Juneteenth.

The day commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans here in the United States.

It was truly a diverse group that came to the Town Common to celebrate Juneteenth on the day set aside by national and state Decree. Members of the Charles Brace Brigade from Springfield were there, following up the appearance of this legendary military unit when the Juneteenth flag was raised Friday at the Mason Square Vietnam veterans monument in Springfield.

“For me it is heartfelt, because it is an honor for myself and my father’s 58th regiment of union soldiers and we do this as an honor to ourselves, this in honor of myself and my father,” said Ronald Jeffrey Brace Jr. of the Charles Brace Regiment.

In advance of Sunday’s official celebration, there was a tour of historic Amherst locations of civil war significance, such as the role Amherst played helping slaves escape from their Southern Bondage.

Carlos Pena, owner of Paper City Clothing Company in Holyoke said, “It’s especially important here in Amherst, one of the places of the underground railway, here in Amherst for the black underground railroad a lot of nostalgia in Amherst.”

In advance of Sunday’s formal Juneteenth celebration, many in this gathering had spent their Saturday visiting historic sites in Amherst that speak to the role played by those back then who took an active role urging the abolition of slavery.