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June 24th festival kicks off today in Florala

Today will kick off Florala’s annual June 24th Masonic Celebration.

It is the oldest consecutive Masonic event in the nation, and this year’s event will mark its 139th anniversary, said Lamar Mitchell, event organizer.

“The event started as an open installation of our officers,” Mitchell said. “It was that way for many years. People would come on wagons and spend the week, even though the main event was on Saturday.

“When the community got involved it became the week-long celebration that it is now,” he said.

Now, people come in cars and trucks — and sometimes RV’s, Mitchell said — to spend the week enjoying events such as parades, children’s events, dances and more.

Today’s events include the bass tournament on Lake Jackson and the “Alligator Trot,” a 5-kilometer run held each year.

The “Anything Goes Parade” is set for 6 p.m. Monday.

“That’s one of the highlights of the week,” Mitchell said. “The kids really pull out all the stops and it really is a kids’ parade filled with anything. Last year, my grandsons dressed up as farmers and rode through on a kid’s John Deere ‘Gator.’ They even had corn in the back of it. It was great.”

Tuesday and Thursday, the Miss June 24th pageants will be held. On Wednesday, children’s events will be held at Lake Jackson at 5:30 p.m.

Friday will feature the Doo Wop Sock Hop at 7 p.m. at the high school. Saturday, the highlight of the event — the parade — will begin downhill at 11 a.m. Arts and crafts will be featured at Lake Jackson all day long.

The weeklong celebration is capped off with a firework show over Lake Jackson at 9 p.m. Saturday

In February, volunteers begin making the arrangements for the June event. Unfortunately, this is the second year in a row there will be no carnival, Mitchell said.

“We’ve had a few setbacks this year, but we’re not going to let it get us down,” Mitchell said. “We’ve already started looking for a carnival company who can fit us into their schedule next year. We’re doing our best to make it happen, but this is going to be a good one, too.”