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AFRO Exclusive: Disney on Ice Enchants with Black Skater as Line Captain

THE AFRO — For three years, professional ice skater Chelsea Ridley has been dazzling audiences with performances.

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By Micha Green

For three years, professional ice skater Chelsea Ridley has been dazzling audiences with performances through Feld Entertainment, and this year she is not only shining on ice as a member of the ensemble, but keeping her fellow cast mates in formation as ladies line captain for Disney On Ice “Worlds of Enchantment.”

“I’m an ensemble kid, which means you can see me anywhere.  You just got to keep your eyes open, because you never know when you can see me.  But I’m also the ladies line captain, so I’m the person that’s in charge of making sure the numbers get taught, and they’re nice and clean, spick and span and beautiful for every night’s performance,” Ridley told the AFRO.

The 25-year-old skater did not simply stumble into the sport and is now getting to tour with the renowned show.  Ridley has been putting in work on the ice since she was 4 years old, however the sport was not always her first love or career choice.

“I would not say it was love at first sight, because I did not love it,” she said.  Yet, Ridley’s Caribbean parents forced her to keep up with skating and decades years later she’s a pro.

“I think that’s a good message for the kids out there, that sometimes you just have to be resilient, because you never know what could happen.  Just don’t give up too fast.  By the end of the session, I really found my love for it, and here we are 21 years later and I’m still loving it everyday,” Ridley told the AFRO.

Now Ridley loves skating, finding a liberating property on the ice.

“I love that you can express yourself in anyway that you want,” she said. “I think that skating is the closest you can get to flying without actually leaving the ground. You can go and just feel so free.”

Having skated competitively for years, Ridley said she particularly finds joy in being able to perform for audiences regularly.

“I’ve always just really loved performing and I think that’s what’s gravitated me towards being part of Disney and going where I can go with that performance aspect,” Ridley said.  “I just love being able to perform and put smiles on people’s faces, everyday.”

With this being her third year with Feld Entertainment, the producers of Disney On Ice, Ridley is somewhat of a vet when it comes to these shows, having even starred as Princess Tiana from the “Princess and the Frog,” with another Disney on Ice production.  However she said that audiences who see this “Worlds of Enchantment” are in store for a treat.

Unfortunately for D.C. readers, the show was only in the District for a short time (Feb. 14- Feb. 18) at the Capital One Arena, however, this reporter can confirm after seeing the show on Valentine’s Day, it’s a colorful and entrancing trip for all ages if able to catch “Worlds of Enchantment” in another city.

“It’s a really fun show.  I’ll just say that sometimes the shows can be a little more princess-based, but this show is really different because we have a lot of different stories that are told, which is really fun for audiences of all ages, boys, girls, kids of all ages.  It’s so fun,” Ridley said.

“Worlds of Enchantment” is particularly special because it features four different Disney films told on ice.

“We have ‘Toy Story,’ we have ‘The Little Mermaid,’ we have Disney Pixar’s ‘Cars and we even have ‘Frozen,’” she said. “Fun fact: We are the only Disney show that has Disney Pixar’s ‘Cars,’ so you got to make sure you see those cars, because they are great on ice.”

Beyond the joy she brings to Disney audiences, Ridley also inspires the next generation of skaters.  As one of the few people of color in Disney On Ice, and as a Black skater in a sport that is still developing in terms of diversity, Ridley takes her job as a coach seriously.

“I teach a lot of African American skaters at home, and I always try to let them know and teach them that, ‘You need to be yourself, and just really do you and don’t let anyone ever tell you no, because you know yourself the best and what you’re capable of, and you need to go out and do what you want to do because it makes you happy.’ And I think that’s the biggest thing that I’ve learned throughout my career,” Ridley told the AFRO.

The 25-year-old also has one last piece of advice for those that want to follow in her footsteps: “Push the envelope always.”

This article originally appeared in The Afro

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Arts and Culture

Marin City Juneteenth Festival Celebrates Unity in the Community

Marin City celebrated the Eighth Annual Juneteenth Festival on Saturday, June 22, at the Rocky Graham Park. This year’s theme was Umoja, which means Unity in our community. This year, the festival organizers distributed a program flyer that acknowledged and appreciated the 40+ hardworking vendors who brought “art, treasures, service, and culinary delights to our International African Marketplace” and the friends and supporters of the Juneteenth Festival.

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From top left: Ain Ashby and Mariah Ashby at the Happy Juneteenth booth, Cynthia Williams at the Center for Domestic Peace booth, Sarah Turner, Anne Deverb, and Nancy Miller at the Come to The Table booth, Tony Swan and June Farmer at the Marin County Flood Control booth, Desirae Rogeb, Yero Massamba, and Ngona Badila at the O Greena-Ancient Remedies booth, People dancing, ChaintiAna Thomas, The Juneteenth Festival stage. Photos by Godfrey Lee.
From top left: Ain Ashby and Mariah Ashby at the Happy Juneteenth booth, Cynthia Williams at the Center for Domestic Peace booth, Sarah Turner, Anne Deverb, and Nancy Miller at the Come to The Table booth, Tony Swan and June Farmer at the Marin County Flood Control booth, Desirae Rogeb, Yero Massamba, and Ngona Badila at the O Greena-Ancient Remedies booth, People dancing, ChaintiAna Thomas, The Juneteenth Festival stage. Photos by Godfrey Lee.

By Godfrey Lee

Marin City celebrated the Eighth Annual Juneteenth Festival on Saturday, June 22, at the Rocky Graham Park. This year’s theme was Umoja, which means Unity in our community.

This year, the festival organizers distributed a program flyer that acknowledged and appreciated the 40+ hardworking vendors who brought “art, treasures, service, and culinary delights to our International African Marketplace” and the friends and supporters of the Juneteenth Festival.

The back of the flyer says that the program “only accepts sponsorship from organizations, municipalities and individuals aligned with our values of peace, liberation, justice, and healing of the mind, body and spirit.”

Here are the many vendors listed in the program by category:

  • Art, Craft, Clothing

Alecia’s Sweets & Gifts, Atrenia’s Treasures, Magi’s Treasures, Tiffany’s Trendy Treasures, Senegalese Art & Waist Beads Fittings, Superior Boutique, Black Anime Art, Eunice’s Unique Creations, Wise Choices, Belle Noire Accessories, Kimani’s Gifts from Kenya, T-Shirts by Jade, Ms. Cynthia’s Ice Box Magnets, Art/Designed Fashion by Malaak and Ain’s Sweets & T-Shirts, Lumpen Proletariat Digital Gallery, MC Arts Gallery,

  • Food, Snacks, Deserts

Nestor’s Jive Turkey Legs, “Dis Nice’ Jamaican Food, “Delightful Foods” Pies/Cookies/Fresh Juices, Akoma Cameroonian Coffee & Gifts, Abhimanyu’s Vegetarian for Life, Clark’s Lemonade, Eats & Treats by Hope Housing, Ms. Clotile’s Fried Fish & Fries, Bryant Family Gumbo, Bakery and Juices, Ms. Eboni’s Sugar Shack, Roadside Soul BBQ, The Red Truck, Lily’s Burgers, Links & Sides, Mr. Leshawn’s Shrimp and Grits,

  • Wellness and Activities

Play Marin, FMBC Mental Health Advocates, Prayer Booth with Steve and Alesia, “Spyfro Man,” French Tutoring by Jean Pierre, Orianna’s Books, O’Green Natural Cleaning, Face Painting by Ayanna, Marin City Wellness Clinic/First Aid Booth, Marin Health Team’s Smoothie Bike, Performance Art by Olubori, Deep Healing Massage by Gio, and Horse Rides with Jaymo.

  • Community Advocates

Marin City CSD, DWP Flood Project Marin City, Marin City Climate Justice, Center for Domestic Peace, Friends of Golden Gate Village, Marin City Library, Marin City Climate Justice, County of Marin, the Marin Community Foundation, the City of Sausalito, the Marin City Community Services District, MC Art and Culture, Showing Up for Racial Justice, and MCE – Empowering Our Clean Energy Future.

The good Business Neighbors were the Good Earth Natural Foods in Mill Valley, the Marin City Community Development Corporation (MCCDC), Marin City Cornerstone Church, and the First Missionary Baptist Church.

And finally, the program acknowledged the generous friends of the festival: Ricardo Moncrief, Doreen Gounard, Malachia Hoover, Darryl Bozeman, Federico Cortez (owner of “Paws Palace” at the Gateway Mall), Maria Banas, Joan Smith, Kalicia Pivirotto, Jessica Lundy, and the SURJ Marin Volunteers.

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Arts and Culture

Hundreds of Revelers Cheer Parade, Join Fun at Juneteenth Festival in Nicholl Park

A bright sun greeted one of Richmond’s most important community gatherings on June 22: the annual Juneteenth Parade and Festival. Hundreds of people greeted the lengthy parade that began at Kennedy High School, passed under the recently-created Juneteenth Freedom Underpass Mural on 37th Street, and continued on to Nicholl Park, where a colorful festival took place through the afternoon.

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A marching band followed the parade route from Kennedy High School to Nicholl Park. Photos by Mike Aldax and Mike Kinney.
A marching band followed the parade route from Kennedy High School to Nicholl Park. Photos by Mike Aldax and Mike Kinney.

By Mike Aldax, Mike Kinney and
Kathy Chouteau
The Richmond Standard

A bright sun greeted one of Richmond’s most important community gatherings on June 22: the annual Juneteenth Parade and Festival.

Hundreds of people greeted the lengthy parade that began at Kennedy High School, passed under the recently-created Juneteenth Freedom Underpass Mural on 37th Street, and continued on to Nicholl Park, where a colorful festival took place through the afternoon.

Michelle Milam, crime prevention manager for the City of Richmond and an organizer, said the parade boasted 70 entries and the festival had 117 booths staffed with community organizations, businesses, and resources. Soul food was being served by a number of popular local eateries such as CJ’s BBQ & Fish, Snapper Seafood and Cousins Maine Lobster.

The annual event is supported via a partnership between the N.B.A., City of Richmond and Chevron.

The Standard asked dozens of community members at this event what Juneteenth means to them.

“It is a celebration of freedom,” said AJ Jelani, president of the Belding Woods Neighborhood Council.

Jelani founded the nonprofit organization A.J./Sealcraft, which honors African American individuals, organizations, groups, and businesses who contributed to empowering fellow African Americans to improve their communities.

“Juneteenth is a recognition of our culture, our history,” he said. “Our unique past was a functionality of the community. It brought us together.”

Richmond resident Gloria Wilson added, “Juneteenth is a day to remember our ancestors’ struggles for our freedom.”

Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia told us the celebration is “about our community coming together.”

“It’s about recognizing the struggles that it has taken up until now, and that there is still work ahead to achieve true equity and equality,” Gioia said.

Gioia noted Richmond is unique for having had an annual Juneteenth parade and festival years before Juneteenth was recognized as a federal holiday in 2021.

“Richmond has had a great history of winning struggles,” Gioia said. “It is important for us to continue that work.”

“We all have the responsibility to uplift and celebrate how people persevered and continue to persevere in the face of challenge.”

Gioia said that is why the County has an Office of Racial Equity and Social Justice.

“I was just talking to the school board and superintendent about the work we’re doing, and the superintendent was talking about their equity plan for the school district, so it all comes together,” Gioia said. “Agencies working together.”

Richmond City Councilmember Doria Robinson, who helped carry the City Council banner in the parade alongside some of her Council colleagues, said Juneteenth is a celebration of perseverance.

“It’s the day where everyone…can reflect on what happened with slavery and can realize that we all carry that burden,” Robinson said, “and that we all have the responsibility to uplift and celebrate how people persevered, and continue to persevere in the face of challenge.”

Added Councilmember Cesar Zepeda, “Richmond has been at the forefront of making sure that our community is aware of Juneteenth. And just more recently, people are finding out about Juneteenth and celebrating it in their cities. Once again Richmond is at the forefront.”

Fast on the heels of Juneteenth, Richmond will get a jump on Independence Day by celebrating along the waterfront Wednesday, July 3.

The City of Richmond will celebrate the “3rd of July Fireworks & Celebration” July 3 from 5-10 p.m. at Marina Bay Park. The fireworks will start at 9:15 p.m., with the show lasting approximately 20 minutes. Along with the fireworks, festivities will include live music, a selection of food choices and an interactive Fun Zone for the kids. Marina Bay Park is located at Marina Bay & Regatta Blvd. in Richmond.

Also on Wednesday, July 3, “Fireworks at the Point at Riggers Loft Wine Company” will take place from 6-10 p.m. Andre Thierry, a.k.a. “the Zydeco king,” will entertain the crowd while they enjoy a choice of cuisine from five food tents prepared by Chef Frank Miller.

Games, wine, cider, and sodas will also be part of the mix. At 9:15 p.m., the venue—and its bayside patio—are perfectly poised to take in the City of Richmond’s fireworks show, for which beach chairs and blankets are suggested.

Tickets are $35 for adults, $15 for those under 21 and free for kids 5 and under. Purchase tickets here and find Riggers Loft at 1325 Canal Blvd. in Richmond.

For those heading to San Francisco on the Fourth of July, the city’s fireworks are set off via two locations in front of Fisherman’s Wharf: The end of Municipal Pier and barges in front of Pier 39. Transit options from Richmond to San Francisco include the San Francisco Bay Ferry, which will operate on a weekend schedule from Thursday, July 4, through Sunday, July 7—learn more https://sanfranciscobayferry.com/holiday-ferry-schedule

BART will run a Sunday schedule (8 a.m. until midnight) on Independence Day— go to https://www.bart.gov/guide/holidaysfor more information. And visit AC Transit for info on catching a bus.

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Bay Area

The Waiting Begins, Oakland Passes Budget With Uncertainty of Coliseum Funds Coming to Save Them

After 12 hours of deliberation over two days, the Oakland City Council passed their mid-cycle budget Tuesday afternoon. This budget is contingent on the city receiving $105 million from the sale of the Coliseum stadium. Oakland is currently in the process of selling their half of the 112-acre stadium complex, where the A’s are playing their last season before heading to Sacramento, to the African American Sports and Entertainment Group (AASEG) as part of Mayor Sheng Thao’s plan to eliminate the over $100 million shortfall for this year’s budget.

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Oakland City Council passed a risky budget that is contingent on the $105 million sale of the Coliseum stadium, but if it falls through, drastic cuts will have to be made across the city in order to make up for the loss. Downtown Oakland. Photo by Travelview.
Oakland City Council passed a risky budget that is contingent on the $105 million sale of the Coliseum stadium, but if it falls through, drastic cuts will have to be made across the city in order to make up for the loss. Downtown Oakland. Photo by Travelview.

By Magaly Muñoz

After 12 hours of deliberation over two days, the Oakland City Council passed their mid-cycle budget Tuesday afternoon. This budget is contingent on the city receiving $105 million from the sale of the Coliseum stadium.

Oakland is currently in the process of selling their half of the 112-acre stadium complex, where the A’s are playing their last season before heading to Sacramento, to the African American Sports and Entertainment Group (AASEG) as part of Mayor Sheng Thao’s plan to eliminate the over $100 million shortfall for this year’s budget.

Many residents and even a few council members strongly urged the city to not depend on the sale of the stadium to balance the budget, saying that the sale was uncertain and could fall through at any moment.

Councilmembers Treva Reid and Janani Ramachandran criticized Thao and the city administrator for not allowing enough time for the council to review all budget possibilities in order to make the right decision for Oakland.

“This year’s budget process has been an insult to the people of Oakland,” Ramachandran said in a video on her Instagram. “I made the deep mistake of putting my trust in the mayor and the city administrator in their strong belief that the sale of the Coliseum would happen in time before our budget was passed.”

Noel Gallo, who also opposed using the sale as a fallback, asked over multiple meetings whether the city had a written guarantee that the developers were going to buy the site and had the money to cover the sale. Gallo received no definitive answer.

The council also received an alternative version of the budget, which would immediately cut funding to public safety but could be restored if the Coliseum money came in at a later date. Layoffs were not included in either option.

In order to avoid major cuts and possible layoffs, $63 million from the sale would need to come in by September 1.

Should the funds not come in, sworn police positions would drop from 678 to 600, fire stations across the city would have to temporarily shut down, two police academies would close, and several other cuts in many departments would have to be made to make up for the lost money.

Vice President of the Oakland Police Officers Association, Tim Dolan, said in a statement that the passing of this budget with the sale contingency puts the city and its residents in danger.

“These cuts would impact our response for availability to render service calls, directly impairing our ability to protect and serve. With fewer officers, response times will be slower, and our capacity to meet the community’s needs will be drastically diminished,” Dolan said.

Despite the widespread concern from many across the city, Thao praised the council for passing the budget.

“The City has just adopted a budget that invests in the future of Oakland. We must remain disciplined and address our deficit responsibly while maintaining our focus on the issues that matter most to Oaklanders, public safety and clean streets. This budget achieves that goal,” Thao said in a statement.

Programs like Ceasefire, the Film Attraction Initiative, and services to youth and elderly will continue to be funded under this passed budget.

Even if the one-time sale funds come through before the September deadline, Oakland will still have a shortfall of $175 million to deal with next year. But, city staff warned the council that there is no viable way to completely close this gap without cuts to public safety.

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