Black Friday was more than just a discounted shopping day for youth in Austin. It was a day to celebrate life, and party in peace.
Last weekend, Final Explosion founder Latricia Walker organized and hosted what she called Black Friday Birthday Juke Bash, a party commemorating the birthdays of young Austin residents.
“Every child in Austin isn’t always lucky enough to get a surprise birthday party or a sweet 16,” said Walker. “We wanted to make that a reality for them and give them a safe environment to have a good, positive time.”
Walker said almost 100 people were at the Nov. 26 party held in the basement of the Austin YMCA, 501 N. Central Ave. The party featured two live DJs and food. Special guest citywide championship-winning dance group CYDC (Chicago Youth Dance Coalition) performed.
“The kids in Austin deserve to have fun without worrying about getting hurt,” said Walker. “We want to do these types of events for them more often.”
Lesanna Page, Walker’s daughter, celebrated her 10th birthday at the party. She’s been a member of the Final Explosion dance group since she was 3.
“Final Explosion helps me to practice for my future as a dancer,” Lesanna said. “The party made me happy, especially since it was my birthday. My favorite part was eating my chocolate birthday cake.”
But Final Explosion wants young people who came out last Friday to remember more than just the cake.
Collette Carter, a parent supporter of the performing arts group Final Explosion, says the group and its events are teaching kids in Austin an important life lesson.
“Besides just having fun, we are trying to teach the children respect, dedication and hard work at an early age,” said Carter. “Final Explosion helps kids in Austin realize there is more positive things to do. We encourage our group members to stand above the negativity in their neighborhood.”
Her daughter, a member of Final Explosion, also celebrated a birthday. Together, Carter and Walker paid for the event, and Carter was one of the two DJs.
“The kids at the party had a ball,” said Carter. “Out of the entire event, I am most proud of the black unity that was displayed that night. I saw a lot of new friendships.”
Carter said it was good to see adults and children laughing and sharing fellowship.
“Austin residents, young and old, need unity,” said Carter. “This is the only way to form a stronger bond for our community.”
Walker said Final Explosion is planning a New Year’s Eve party for the young people of Austin.
“I guarantee our next party for the young people will be even bigger,” she said.