Tucker to hold summer camp on Juneteenth holiday following vote to keep city hall open

Tucker City Hall. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Tucker, GA — Parents, take note. Tucker Recreation Center is revising dates for one week of 2022 summer camp.

The city now says summer camp Week 4 will be held all week, June 20-24. Initially, the camp schedule showed the camp would be closed on June 20, the day Juneteenth will be observed as a federal holiday.

The revision to the camp schedule follows the Tucker City Council’s decision to omit Juneteenth from the city’s office closure calendar.

Celebrated on June 19, Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021. A combination of the words “June” and “nineteenth,” the holiday commemorates the day when Black slaves in Galveston, Texas, learned they were free. President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862 and it went into effect on Jan. 1, 1863. But the slaves in Galveston weren’t informed until June 19, 1865.

Because the holiday falls on a Sunday this year, it will be observed on June 20, according to the federal holiday calendar. Other local cities are closing that day, including Avondale Estates, Decatur, Clarkston, Brookhaven, Chamblee and Doraville.  City calendars generally coincide with the federal holiday calendar.

Tucker City Council on Feb. 15 rejected closing for the Juneteenth holiday in 5-2 vote. Councilmembers Noelle Monferdini and Alexis Weaver voted against omitting Juneteenth from the city’s office closure calendar. Weaver offered an additional motion to observe Juneteenth, but it was voted down 2-5.

City Manager Tami Hanlin recommended the city remain open on June 20.

“We already have 11 days a year that the city hall is closed. We really strive to be open as many days as possible and serve the public. And also, this year, we have summer camp planned, and people have already signed up. In fact, I’m pleased to say, summer camp is full, and we have a waiting list,” said Hanlin.

Councilmember Anne Lerner said parents expect camp to be open that day.

“I want to make sure we have a plan in place for summer camp because those parents may not be off that day,” Lerner said.

However, Tucker Rec summer camp was already scheduled to be closed on June 20 at the time of Lerner’s and Hanlin’s remarks. That week was fully enrolled – like every other week on the city’s summer camp schedule. All Tucker camps were full and on a waiting list within three hours of opening for registration on Feb. 1.

The city is closing its summer camp for two other federal holidays this summer: July 4 and Memorial Day.

Hours after Tucker Observer reported information that summer camp was scheduled to be closed on June 20, the city changed the camp schedule to show camps would operate that day.

A screenshot of the Tucker Parks and Recreation website taken Feb. 16. The screenshot shows the city is not holding camp on June 20, the day that Juneteenth will be observed this year.
A screenshot of the Tucker Parks and Recreation website taken Feb. 17. The screenshot shows the city changed its camp schedule following a report by Tucker Observer. The schedule now shows summer camp will be open on June 20, the day that Juneteenth will be observed this year.

A city spokesperson, Matt Holmes, said the initial schedule was a “clerical error” and the city always intended for camp to be open on the Juneteenth holiday. He also said parents expressed concerns about camp being closed, despite that week’s camp being fully enrolled within hours of registration opening.

“Due to a clerical error, the dates for the Tucker Recreation Center Summer Camp were listed incorrectly on our Parks and Recreation website. Those dates have been fixed and we will be open to provide care for our campers the entire week of June 20, as was our original intention,” Holmes said.

Tucker Observer has asked Holmes to provide evidence that parents contacted the city with concerns about camp being closed on June 20.

He said he didn’t have any emails from parents raising those concerns.

“I know that our Parks folks were inundated with calls the week or two leading up to camp sign-ups with a ton of logistical questions,” Holmes said. “This happened to be one of the questions they were getting. It’s from parents trying to plan, especially if their workplaces are not going to be closed that day.”

When asked why the city is closing on Memorial Day and July 4 but not Juneteenth, Holmes said summer camp is being held on Juneteenth due to demand for childcare.

“At the time summer camp was planned, we did not know whether the city would be open on June 20 (the 2022 observed date of Juneteenth),” Holmes said. “We did know that the city would be closed on Memorial Day and Independence Day, as it has been each year since we incorporated. Additionally, we heard from parents who were concerned that they would not have childcare on June 20. So, the decision was made to offer that service to the community.”

According to Axios Atlanta, Gov. Brian Kemp is supporting a pan to make Juneteenth a state holiday and the state Legislature is considering a bill to make this change. The bill has not yet passed.

During the Feb. 15 meeting, Mayor Frank Auman reminded City Council members the city is not closed for other holidays.

“We don’t have any Jewish holidays on our calendar, we don’t have any Muslim holidays on our calendar,” said Auman.

The city’s calendar shows city meetings are planned for Jewish holidays Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and Muslim holidays Eid-al-Fitr and Eid-al-Adha, which are based on a lunar calendar and change from year to year.

A Tucker City Council is scheduled for Sept. 26, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and Tucker Zoning Board is scheduled for Oct. 4, on Yom Kippur, the holiest Jewish day. Downtown Development Authority is meeting on May 2, Eid-al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan, and Zoning Board of Appeals is meeting on July 9, Eid-al-Adha, the holiest Muslim festival.

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