Springfield to mark Haitian Flag Day. What to know about celebrations Thursday

Credit: Creative Commons

Credit: Creative Commons

Springfield has seen a surge in Haitian immigrants in recent years, and the city will mark one of Haiti’s big holidays Thursday with first-ever celebrations here.

Here’s what to know:

Why is Haitian Flag Day big?

Haitian Flag Day commemorates the creation of the country’s flag on May 18, 1803.

“The Haitian Revolution was a pivotal moment in the fight against slavery, as Haiti became the first country in the world to achieve independence through a successful slave rebellion,” a local group planning events Thursday said in promotional material. “The creation of the Haitian flag was a symbol of the nation’s struggle for freedom and has since become an emblem of Haitian identity and pride.”

The revolution helped Haitians achieve independence from France.

What is the city doing Thursday?

The city of Springfield will have an event beginning at 7:45 a.m., open to the public and around the flagpole on the City Hall Plaza.

“We want to honor the contributions of the Haitian people in our community on a day that is key in their national pride,” said Springfield City Manager Bryan Heck previously.

The city event will feature the raising of the Haitian flag and singing of the Haitian national anthem. A city proclamation and remarks will follow.

What is the main event?

The larger event Thursday is called the Haitian Flag Day Fair and Festival, planned from 1 to 9 p.m. at the Veterans Park Amphitheater at 250 Cliff Park Road. Entry is free.

Haitian food vendors, art, dance, music, a panel discussion and remarks are planned. Live performances include headliners Toto Necessite, Delly Francois, J-Flash and Harriett J.

“The festival provides an opportunity for people to come together, learn from one another and embrace diversity in all its forms,” its promotional material said.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

How many Haitians are here?

An exact number of how many Haitians have migrated to Springfield is unknown. Groups working with the community have estimated that 4,000 to 7,000 Haitian immigrants have come to the city in about the last five years.

>> Haitian immigrant patients more than triple at Springfield’s Rocking Horse health center