Though Colorado’s legislature declared Juneteenth a state holiday starting this year, only a few dozen municipalities will observe the day-off.
Just over 40 towns and cities in Colorado have confirmed they’ll observe Juneteenth as a holiday based on information collected by the Colorado Municipal League.
Castle Rock recently approved a resolution declaring the holiday on June 19 and becoming the 43rd municipality in the state to recognize the day.
“If nobody’s studied the history of (Juneteenth), it’s pretty significant,” Castle Rock Council Member Tim Dietz said when it was proposed as a holiday at the April 19 meeting.
Juneteeth, also known as Emancipation Day or Freedom Day, commemorates the day, June 19, 1865, enslaved Black people in Galveston were told they were free under the Emancipation Proclamation. The news was delivered by Union soldiers just two months after the end of the Civil War, though the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed more than two years earlier.
Castle Rock estimates observing the holiday will cost the town roughly $61,000 this year to pay employees for the day off and compensate fire and police staff on duty.
Colorado Municipal League Director Kevin Bommer said most municipalities began conversations of observing Juneteenth after the federal government made it a holiday in 2021. Colorado followed suit this legislative session, with the bill being signed May 2.
However, Bommer said the state can’t mandate municipal governments to observe Juneteenth as a paid holiday.
“We really haven’t seen a big surge because the state did it,” Bommer said of municipalities recognizing the holiday. “There were some (municipalities) that started as early as July of last year, after the federal government took action.”
The latest information CML has collected shows 75 municipalities that currently don’t have plans to observe the holiday, including Centennial, Castle Pines, Englewood and Lone Tree.
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