MILWAUKEE — Thousands of dollars were handed out Wednesday to the winners of this year's Juneteenth Day Parade and celebration performers.
More than 125 groups walked in the parade, but only a few wowed the judges enough to take the top spot in three categories: float, band, and dance.
The energy was electric in Milwaukee on Sunday for the 51st Juneteenth celebration.
From King Drive to Locust Street, people showed up and showed out, performing their hearts out for an opportunity to win some cash and wow five judges.
This was the first year Northcott Neighborhood House, which organizes the parade, held a competition for floats, dances and band performances.
Northcott Neighborhood House Executive Director Tony Kearney said parade goers were blown away by the performances.
"I can't dance like that," Kearney laughed. "The enthusiasm of the young people just lifted everyone up."
We Energies and Issa Stampede won first place for their floats, taking home $2,000 each.
Issa Stampede worked for months on the float and their performance.
Coach Kennaye Lewis said the cash is great, but instilling confidence in her girls while celebrating freedom is the real prize.
"For us to win and showcase our talents means a lot to us," Lewis smiled. "We're excited and happy."
Issa Stampede brought their A-game on Juneteenth Day, even helping the TMJ4 crew learn new moves.
"It definitely gave them energy," Lewis said. "It gave them motivation. It gave them power."
Other big winner on Juneteenth Day, Rufus King's Drumline and Phenomenal Dance Company that each won $1,000 for taking home first place in the band and dance categories.
Parade organizers hope the money helps these groups reach new heights.
"The importance is to give them the opportunity to do things they normally wouldn't be able to do," Kearney stated.
By eliminating financial barriers and allowing them to express themselves freely.
Toxic Elite Force Dance Company won 2nd place and Issa Stampede won 3rd place for the dance competition.
In total, organizers gave away more than $8,500.