African-American history celebrated at festival

The Hillside Dancers for Christ perform on Saturday. Photo available for purchase

The Hillside Dancers for Christ perform on Saturday.

David Adlerstein
Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 11:16 AM.

The weather was blustery, with an occasional chill, but the mood was joyous and spirits warm as Apalachicola’s Hillside community played host last weekend to the 10th anniversary of the county’s annual African-American History Festival.

The typically modest parade started on time, but all but a few onlookers were absent, declining to brave the chilly temperature.

Serving as Grand Marsha was Elinor Mount-Simmons, a teacher of more than three decades in the Franklin County Schools, and one of the founders of HCOLA (Hillside Coalition of Laborers for Apalachicola) that has organized the festival annually since 2004.

“I was totally honored and humbled, it tickled me they would select me for it,” she said.

The constitutional officers were there, and County Commissioner Noah Lockley, and the usual accompaniment of police and firefighters, plus the Hillside Royalty in a float of their own.

On the float were Tiny Mr. Hillside: Bo Simmons III, 3 ½; Tiny Miss Hillside Mercedes Davis II, 2;Hillside Prince Ajayden Lewis, 5; Hillside Princess Alexis McNair, 6; Mr. Hillside Kiondre Sewell, 11; Miss Hillside Shine Pearson, 11; Hillside Queen Bria Walker, 16; and Hillside King Jathan Martin, 16.

By mid-morning, the sun had burst over the growing crowd at the Sixth Street site, next to Holy Family Senior Center, where the festival was held.

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