HOUSTON -

Juneteenth got under way in Houston Tuesday, and there were free events for the whole family.

Juneteenth commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas, which happened in Galveston in June 1865, nearly three years after Abraham Lincoln had declared all slaves to be freed.

Houston's celebration has become so well known, it was cited by the Smithsonian Institute as the the "Number 3 Hotspot in the Nation" when it comes to festivals.

A little rain couldn't stop the celebration at Emancipation Park on Tuesday, where people continued what's become a yearly tradition for well over a century across the state.

Along with parades and reenactments of the proclamation around the region,  Mayor Annise Parker was on hand to announce a $33 million dollar project to restore and add to the park.

"We expect to see all generations at this park. We intend for it to be a destination," said Parker.

If all goes according to plan, the city hopes to break ground on the new initiatives in 18 to 24 months.

This year organizers expected between 6,000 and 9,000 Houstonians to take part in the festivities.

The city of Houston has been encouraging families to celebrate at Hermann Park.  Not only were there picnic facilities, but there was free music all day long. There were dozens of acts at the Miller Outdoor Theater representing the deep African-American roots grounded in Texas history.  

The headliner at 7 p.m. will be Joe Sample, a Houston native and founding member of the Jazz Crusaders and the Crusaders.